14 June 2021

Cave rescue training starts again

I hadn't been training with the rescue team for 1 1/2 years. There had been a cave rescue training been scheduled just before lockdown; unsurprisingly, it had been cancelled. Last July they had to be another one, but that was just when I was in the Netherlands. And there had been two callouts during lockdown; one involving a sheep on the ledge or something; there were already enough people there to sort it. And another one involving an actual person who had fallen down some cliff, but that was when I was still on sick leave with my arms. I didn't think it would be a good idea to go stretcher carrying like that. So now that there was a training scheduled, and I was willing and able to attend it, it was a bit unfamiliar again.

The training was going to be in Cwm, so for the first time in a long while I drove up to that so familiar parking lot. There were a few people there already, but it looked like it was going to be a small group. I got kitted up, and soon we were on our way up. One of the team members asked me if I still went underground with the Thursday nighters. I said I didn't, and had no intention of that ever changing. The one Thursday nighter who was present heard me say that, and immediately claimed the whole situation had nothing to do with him. It did, of course; but that didn't matter now. That evening we were in function as team mates. We went in, and down, to the catwalk. The idea was to rig and SRT pitch there, and send some other people around the catwalk to rig some complicated different rig there. Gethin, who was leading this training, had an idea of trying out a new rig that allows you to diagonally raise and lower people without that becoming complicated at either end of the rig. And so we started! I declined to rig the SRT pitch as it was one of those with anchor points really far out; I didn't think I would have the reach. But once it was rigged I did descend. That was the first time in quite a while! The most interaction I had had with ropes in a fair while was when painting my extension

Some blokes were rigging this elaborate rig. There was another woman, but she was recovering from an injury, so she didn't do any rigging herself. And then it was done! One of the team members was pulled up back to the catwalk, and then back down again. Then we did it again, but with everybody in a different position. This time I was one of the people doing the actual pulling. That is hard work! And the facemask didn't help. But we did it. Then Gethin talked us through our findings, and gave us the choice between going home or lifting a light person up the original SRT pitch. We chose the latter option, and I volunteered as the light person. So I got back up to catwalk level in comfort! Then we went out. It was a sultry evening. I changed back into my civilian gear and drove off. I will see these people again in a month's time; then we have a training combined with the AGM. That's in the east again, so a fair drive, but so be it. It's good to keep one's skills updated!

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