Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mock Rescue-Sullivan's Cave

The last day of the cave rescue class is an all-day mock rescue. As an instructor, I had volunteered to tag along as a "bat" with the communications task force. That meant I would follow along and remain in the background unless any safety issues arose, and then I could squeak and offer a suggestion. 

I arrived at Sullivan's Cave soon after the mock rescue was announced and watched the first group arrive with their personal gear and some group gear.

They also brought the reporting party, Don, who said he had been caving with three friends and one had gotten hurt and he had come out to get help. He offered to take the rescuers into the cave, but instead he was offered a chair and was repeatedly questioned by Marty to get every ounce of information out of him that she could.

Meanwhile, a gear cache was being assembled with ropes, wedding, communications wire, a cable ladder, an IRT pack, a litter, and more.

A tent was set up over the Incident Command Post.

And then the comm team was sent into the cave as the second team and I started following them. They did an excellent job laying the wire quickly and keeping it out of the way of subsequent teams. Usually later teams that enter the cave are told to follow the comm wire. The biggest compliment this team got was one team got lost because they couldn't find the wire, it was camouflaged so well!

The comm wire allows military field phones to be hooked up and communications between the cave and surface to occur. It saves a lot of time and energy than having someone going in and out of the cave to pass notes, especially with difficult passage.

As the comm team waited for more wire after running two spools in, we watched one of the "original cavers" exit the cave. He had hypothermia and made it difficult for his rescuers, but they persisted and did an excellent job of moving him out of the cave.

Meanwhile, another member of the "original cave team" had gotten lost while trying to find the entrance, but a search party found him in short order and got him out of the cave. That left just the injured caver, Jess, to get out.

Jess had a tib/fib fracture (broken leg), so she had to be packaged in a litter. Part of the cave was steep, so a rigging team prepared it for her exit.

Jess was moving before I got to see her. She was in a cave passage with waist-high water, and some of the rescuers were starting to get cold. So I traded places with another "bat" and followed some of the cold rescuers out of the cave.

On the way I managed to snap a photo of the great placement of this comm wire spool--on the ceiling out of everyone's way.

The entrance area was rigged with three different haul systems.

Jeff and Ellen patiently waiting for the patient to arrive at their part of the cave.

The area right outside the cave was also rigged.

The Incident Command Post had many more nametags hanging down from the awning, signifying who was doing what on the incident.

Finally a group arrived carrying Jess from the cave entrance to the parking area. Hurray!

She was unpackaged and a real medical doctor made sure she was okay. She was a bit on the cold side despite a wetsuit and blankets, but after a few minutes she seemed to be warming up just fine in the thick Indiana heat.

The rescue wasn't over just because Jess was out. There was still lots of gear to be washed!

And then the final step--Billy and Harold loading it into the big U-Haul truck and storing it until needed for a cave rescue--or next year's class.

It was a great 2009 class. Thanks to everyone who participated and helped make it happen.


The Incredible Woody said...

I think I would just hang with the reporting party;)

Caroline said...

What Woody said....

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