Proctor Training update: Cave Rescue Course

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Recently our OLD School proctors, Jeremy and Sarah(that’s me), 2015 caving instructor Luke Ayers, and our assistant director of Old School, Josh, completed a cave rescue course in Huntsville, Alabama. The group was eager and excited to get the course started and learn efficient and effective critical thinking skills and techniques to rescue someone smoothly and safely from the dark pits of a cave (Plus, we were really excited to go exploring in a cave). The classes and training started early Thursday morning at 8 am so our team traveled over Wednesday night and set up tents and a campsite for the weekend. It was a multi-purpose weekend not only in learning valuable cave rescue skills but also revisiting initial campsite etiquette and leave no trace principles. The first day of the cave rescue course was filled with classroom time. There were A LOT of slide show presentations and lectures!! Some of the information was familiar to the group with their background in First Aid procedures and the various climbing gear we use here at Snowbird, while some info and techniques were new to them.
The fun started to take place on Friday when the class began hands-on exercises where they were able to put into practice a few of the skills they just learned. The first of the exercises were setting up communications underground. During a cave rescue, we use a phone at the entrance of the cave with a hard wire running into the cave. The phones we worked with this weekend looked like Vietnam War era bag phones that you would see in the movies. It is surprising how effective those phones were when it came to a mock rescue we performed later in the weekend in a cave.  Later, the class was split into three groups that would rotate to different “stations”. The stations consisted of: patient packaging and movement, rigging gear for a haul or lower, and climbing and descending a rope with a personal harness and gear. The group then learned various techniques depending on the landscape of the cave  for packaging, moving, securing, protecting and hauling the patient through the cave.There was a lot of climbing/belaying and hauling involved!

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On Saturday we starting putting all of the skills we had just learned to practice and ran through mock scenarios. All afternoon we were in the cave running through scenarios and different ways of moving a patient through the cave. It was very enjoyable experience, and we learned a lot. Finally on Sunday we spent the entire day from 8am to 5pm running a full cave rescue. Not only was this whole experience insightful, it was also a lot of fun.  For us as OLD School Instructors and Proctors, we not only learned valuable skills to help facilitate and assist in a cave rescue but we also were reminded of the importance of teamwork and communication.

Spencer Davis
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