Report on the OFD Rescue 5th Sept 2021

Early in the afternoon of the 5th Sept the team received a callout to an incident in the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu system. A party of 3 cavers on a Pendulum Passage pull through trip had decided to proceed to visit the helictites in the southern end of the passage. Whilst negotiating a loose climb down, the first two of the group were caught in a serious boulder collapse. Both cavers were hit by rocks, but one was hit harder than the other with impacts to the foot and shoulder affecting mobility.

 

Surface Controlller

 

Rather than risk returning via the climb, the two cavers decided to proceed along the passage heading towards the Nave, whilst the remaining caver went out via the main streamway to raise help. The two affected cavers manage to make their way along the higher level passage until they reached an exposed section with a significant drop into the main streamway below, and it was here the two decided to await assistance.

 

Whilst rescue control was being fully established, and a wider team callout initiated, a team of four entered the cave with first aid, rig equipment, casualty comforts, Cave Link communications and the new prototype casualty warming jacket  currently being developed by the Derbyshire team.

 

Good progress was made and voice comms made at the expected point. It was clear the two cavers were keen to get out, and the more injured member of the two cavers was lowered down to the team members by his fellow caver, who then abseiled down on a pull through arrangement. Meanwhile communications were quickly set up in the oxbow and the situation relayed to control via Cavelink.

 

The two cavers were assessed in the drier passage of the oxbow, and the warming effect of the new casualty vest trialled. Both were given a dose of suitable pain relief and a final extraction plan agreed to. This was relayed via the Cavelink, but whilst the underground messages were being read, the reply messages from control were not being received back. However, it was considered important to keep moving and that we had enough people and equipment to support the more injured caver in progressing forward and out via Maypole. Initially progress was slow, but improved as we got used to working with each other. 

 

At the top of the initial climbs into Maypole passage fresh team members appeared and additional pain relief applied to the two cavers. Good progress was again made, and arrival at the main climb into Maypole found the pitch rigged and a team ready to haul the injured cavers up, This all went smoothly and both cavers were supported out as required. 

 

Around 11pm we were back on the surface, and the landrover called to bring both cavers back to Penwyllt where they were assessed by the team doctor, had some hot food and grabbed a hot shower. Fortunately, whilst both had been badly bruised in some way, they had escaped more serious injury. 

Gear needs washing!

Once again an excellent team effort, and a big thanks goes to all involved bringing the wide range of skills and people needed to make a rescue work.

Report by Jules Carter Warden, SMWCRT.