The primary objective of this exercise was the extraction of a stretcher-bound casualty from Ogof Cnwc (Daren Cilau 2nd entrance), something that had not been attempted before and as such was a complete unknown. A good crowd of 48 assembled at Whitewalls, including plenty of new faces alongside the regulars. The plan was for three stretcher parties to tackle different parts of the cave, while several smaller teams worked on communications above and below ground.

The communications exercise was on the whole very successful, with radios, Heyphones and Francephones all functioning well in a variety of locations which were logged for future use. The stretcher parties didn’t have such an easy time of it. A section of crawl at the far end of Busmans Holiday was found to be a lot more awkward than had been anticipated. This put us well behind schedule, and a decision had to be made to cut things short and skip straight to the entrance series. The downside of this was that it left the the 2nd stretcher party redundant, so those people unfortunately missed out on getting any hands on experience.

The final task was to attempt the extraction of a casualty through the Ogof Cnwc entrance series. This turned out to be perfectly viable for most of the way, including the sump bypass and scaffold shaft with care. However, we were eventually stopped by the sections of tight rift that form the crux of Ogof Cnwc, which we discovered would require some form of engineering in order to get a stretcher through. Despite the difficulties encountered this was a very valuable exercise as we now have a much better understanding of what we are faced with in a real rescue situation at this end of Daren Cilau. Our thanks to all who attended.

This was also our first "real" test of the new Search Management software currently being trialled by Mountain and Cave Rescue teams across England & Wales. Although there were a few issues (minor niggles which the providers have been made aware of and will fix for the official release) the software performed well. We hope to get more people trained on the system in the near future.

To discuss this practice and see more feedback, go to the forum