The Way Out is distributed freely but a donation to the team would be very welcome.
Articles from ALL those interested in cave rescue are welcome for consideration.
Send your donations to: WBCRT c/o Gary Evans. Poplar Court, Cae Hopkin, Abercrave, Swansea, SA9 1TP
Send articles to: Brian Jopling, Owl Barn Cottage, Duntisbourne Rouse, Cirencester, GLOS. GL7 7LG.
WBCRT Annual General Meeting 2000
The AGM was held on Sunday 16th January, 2000 at the Copper Beech Inn, Abercraf. Several executive posts changed hands this year and the entire list is given below
John Lister Chairman (+ Mid-Wales Warden)
Gary Evans Treasurer
Pete Dobson Communications Officer
Toby Dryden Training Officer
Rhys Williams Secretary
Claire Garman First Ad Officer
Brian Jopling Equipment Development Officer
Ali Garman Equipment Officer & Call-Out Database Coordinator
Martyn Farr Cave Diver Rescue Co-ordinator
Mid Wales Wardens
The next AGM will be held an Sunday 21st January 2001 at 9:30am in the Long Common Room, SWCC, Penwyllt. At this meeting the elections will take place for an executive to sit for the 12 months that follow it. Please attend if you are able and even stand for the executive.
Gary Evans, Treasurer, WBCRT.
Secretary's report 1999
Rescues in 1999
The following is a summary of the incidents that WBCRT responded to in 1999.
We had the usual overdue parties and minor injuries in Ogof Ffynnon Ddu again this year and three animal rescues. No major incidents or injuries, so far, thankfully.
20th February Cwm Dwr to Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 1 - Overdue Party - Route finding problems - Met Rescue Team on way out of cave.
27th March Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 2 - Overdue Party - Exhausted Caver Self rescue and was assisted from Top Entrance
27th March Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 1 - Ankle Injury - Twisted ankle Self rescue
First Aid treatment given by Team
6th April Cwm Dwr to Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 2 - Overdue Party - Met Rescue Team on way out of Cave.
18th May Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 1 - Overdue party - Cave Divers and Film Crew running late. Met Team on Way Out
31st May Dan yr Ogof - Overdue Party - Trip took longer than anticipated. Met Rescue Team on way
13th July Mid Wales Calf trapped in Pot Hole - Team attended and removed Calf safely from hole.
18th August Aeroplane Hole, Penwyllt - Lamb trapped in tight rift -Team attended
and removed Lamb after 3 hours work.
7th November River Tawe, Abercraf - Sheep stranded - Recovered by Team members across deep and swollen river
There have been three incidents in 2000 at the time of writing.
The first was on the 9th January when two cavers were overdue from Ogof Gwynt yr Eira and turned up after 50 minutes of Call-Out time.
The second was a dog Rescue on 6th April, when a sheepdog was rescued from a rift on a mountainside near Bridgend. The rift was 30ft deep and the result was the successful recovery of the unharmed animal. This incident was notable in that it was filmed by a TV crew who were in attendance with the RSPCA and the program was shown on Pet Rescue on Channel 4 on 8th May.
The number of annual incidents seems fairly stable at the moment.
Practices and training:
The team has continued to be active during the year on the training front. A change of Training Officer for the first time in some years has resulted in a few changes in the delivery. The evening practices have continued this winter, but with a change to Tuesday evenings, every other week.
The major practices since the last AGM (June) have been the Cwm Dwr Route Card tests at the end of June and of course the big event of the year in October, the Joint Rescue Practise for the South Wales Search and Rescue Association. This involved 60 people from WBCRT and GCRT laying on a complex Mountain Rescue Scenario and then the attendance of 5 Mountain Rescue Teams to deal with it. The exercise was extremely complex to plan and deliver and thanks must go to the organising committee of WBCRT and GCRT members who undertook the planning work, as well as all those who took part on the day.
Finances continue to be a niggling problem for the team. The usual profits from parties and personal/club options do come in, and we appreciate those who support the Team in that way. However, things are improving, with a number of small Grants received this year and plans for additional income from
traditional fundraising methods.
The big news is the successful application for a grant from Sportlot, which combined with a part match funding Grant from the Powys Council Development and some Team funds will result in a project worth nearly £62,000. We are only awaiting final confirmation of the Powys Grant to move forward.
The Callout database has continued to be a valuable tool for the Team and is about to receive its next upgrade. We will be checking and updating the existing data and hopefully adding in a few new team members. It is hoped that the electronic version which will help to track down specialists during an Incident will be ready in the next few months.
The WayOut continues to be a valuable communication tool and we are indebted to the firms who support the production of this.
We attended two events in 1999, the Brecon show as a fundraising event and also the South Wales Police Open Day to both support the Police and provide an opportunity to raise our profile.
Once again, thanks go out to all those who have donated time, money and energy to the team through the year. Everyone's input is welcome and gratefully received.
Gary Evans, Acting Secretary WBCRT, January 2000
British Cave Rescue Council
It is sad to have to report the death of Dr Peter Andrews - president and past chairman of the Mountain Rescue Council.
Peter was a very good friend of cave rescue and played a pivotal role in establishing the BCRC as an associate member of the MRC with the benefits that have resulted and the opportunity to bring cave rescue matters to the national arena.
Peter was always a great source of common sense and he delighted in helping in any way possible. Always willing, he was very well respected at all the local and national levels that rescue has to address in the modern world.
I will miss Peter, he always seemed to be able to bridge the gap between opposing views without compromising his own principles.
I was honoured to be able to represent the SWCRO at Peter's funeral on Monday 28th Feb, 2000.
BCRC constitutional amendments ( to obtain charity status) are proceeding.
There has been a meeting with ACPO concerning the application of Health and Safety at Work to voluntary bodies (who are excluded from the legislation). Gary has promised an article about this for the next issue. It appears that the police think that any body who acts for them in a voluntary role is subject to the Health and Safety at Work directive. However they agree that legal advice will need to be taken as our advice is that the HSW excludes voluntary bodies.
It requires little imagination to see the problems this would cause and the amount of extra work we would be burdened with.
There are three ways to approach this problem. First we agree and sink into the mire that will have no benefit to the casualty, secondly we can agree to a limited involvement and agree to generic (on the fly) risk assessment based upon a safety statement OR
thirdly keep right out of it and basically say "Do it yourself if you insist".
One thing is for sure. If the team agrees to introduce HSW then the proposer get to do the work!
The HeyPhone Is moving along apace.
Pete Allwright has done the bulk of testing in most rescue areas and I helped in South Wales, Glos, Mendip and Shropshire. I am also doing the caver proofing of the units.
The first trial threatened to be a flop. Rhys et al were due to take a unit to Pinnacle Chamber but when Pete and my-self did a guide surface check the interference was so bad that we quickly changed the venue to Boulder Chamber.
And boy did it work. The first contact was so loud and clear that the interference was ignored. The ground return array was used. (basically you transmit a magnetic field into as opposed to the Ogofone which transmits through - the earth via grounded antenna, the receiver detects this field which has a single side band radio frequency parasited on to it).
We tried several different antenna layouts and then moved away from the optimum point. The best comms, 20/20, was sitting in the doorway of the Stump with the antenna along the footpath, but the most interesting was from the Small Common room - 440m away ! What a boon for the controller. We did find that having the surface set close to overhead mains supply induced a hum in the transmission that could be heard underground.
I was unable to attend the Sunday trials at Gwent but can report that Carno went very well but Draenen was a little more difficult due, we think, to poor earthing on the surface because of the mining spoil that covers the area. However the trials were very successful end better than any previous unit.
Paul Taylor and I 'did' Wet Sink late one Wednesday night.
Again the trial went well and Paul and I moved from the optimum point to the road, over 200m away. Again mains hum was present and a guide alteration of the array proved a quick fix.
Swildons was chosen as it is under Brian Prewers house (you have to think of the controllers comforts). The first site was above Sump One and was loud and clear.
We then moved away and again got very long transmit runs. Moving back to above Sump One the surface team then stayed put and the underground party moved first to Barnes
Loop and then to the top of the Forty. Good comms were possible from the one surface point.
Sunday saw trials in St Cuthberts which has proved very difficult in the past. Comms were so strong that removing one surface earth still gave 20/20 comms.
A Wednesday night trip to Snailbeach was arranged with members of the Midlands CRO. I was surprised, and de-lighted, how much the area has changed since I was last there. The "moonscape" of tailings has been reclaimed and I had trouble identifying the site of a shaft, since capped, that gave us greet sport avoiding falling debris such as washing machines and dead cows. However the trials again went well except for one that had a barite vein in the way.
A quick move to a more suitable site re-established good comms. I suppose that if they use barites to shield nuclear reacters we should have not been too surprised.
To date the trials have been enormously successful over all of the major caving areas. The interference seems to be strongest in Wales but in no way detracted from the usefulness of the unit and we will certainty be buying several sets when they become available, possibly in the autumn. I think that the HeyPhone will make a huge difference to cave rescue comms, it may be possible to speak to all of OFD from two or three surface points. You can also use them like standard radios, one surface control and several u/g units so searches should be more efficient. Pete has since found a problem in Wharfedale but this seems entirely due to local geographical conditions and the weather during the trial was so bad that little mucking around, sorry structured trials, were
There is a lot of work to be done with different arrays and the loop antenna, which we have not tried yet. We have to identify locations and teach the disciplines required but we are on to winner
Editors note. The Wharfedale problem was also due to a slightly faulty unit--not surprising due to the bashing they have had!
Mountain Rescue Council.
The powers that be have allocated new frequencies on the high band which should improve comms. We should be granted a licence to use the new frequency without a problem.
The new high band frequencies are:
Channel One 158.6500MHz Simplex only
Ground to Air
Channel Two 155.3500MHz Simplex or Base
transmit No ground to Air
Channel Three 147.4750MHz Simplex or Base
receive No ground to Air
We will have to change but will continue running the low band until all the local teams update. Low band will be withdrawn on 31 Dec 2009.
Equipment. Use and Abuse.
I hope that we can occasionally include a section on the use, and common misuse, of various type of equipment and techniques. With photographs and sketches we can very easily make it a worthwhile exercise.
The Little Dragon MKIII
What is it for ?
The Little Dragon is used to help treat and prevent hypothermia. It is not a magic wand that will deal with hypothermia on it's own. All of the other hypothermia protocols must be used in conjunction with the Little Dragon.
- First Aid.
- Careful handling.
The Little Dragon insulates and warms the airway -the only route for further heat loss from a well insulated casualty. It also has a marked psychological effect and you will find that a casualty will often be loath to give it up and will want to self administer. This is fine and should be allowed. The Alpine School of Medicine in Chamonix have also found that it tends to keep the casualty occupied - allowing you to do 'other things' to them.
The Little Dragon uses the exothermic reaction of carbon dioxide and medical soda lime to humidify and warm ambient air.
Where to find it and what's in the box.
The LD is on the first response shelf - to the right of the garage door looking in, stored in an orange Peli 1200 case which contains:
- Laminated instructions
- Thermometer housing
- Delivery tube and sleeve, 22mm diameter
- Inlet tube, 15mm diameter
- Main Body and sleeve
- Carbon Dioxide cylinder
- Carbon Dioxide delivery / pressure reducing control valve.
The unit is complete and the main body precharged with medical soda lime which only requires priming with carbon dioxide then assembling the mask-delivery tube-elbow-thermometer housing to the main body to be ready for administration.
There is sufficient gas and soda lime for 5 hours continuous use, and as the unit is normally administered in 20-30 minute spells, the unit should last for the majority of rescues. If more consumables are required a peli case, suitably marked, containing soda lime and a carbon dioxide cylinder is on the same shelf.
How to assemble and prime the Little Dragon ready for administration.
Follow the correct sequence of assembly.
The purpose of following the correct sequence is to inject carbon dioxide first and then assemble the delivery system which allows time for the carbon dioxide (CO2) to be absorbed by the medical soda lime and any excess CO2 to be dissipated before administration .
1 - Assemble CO2 Control valve to CO2 cylinder.
2 - Inject CO2 into Main Body
3 - Assemble Mask/Elbow/Delivery tube and fit to the Main Body
- Fit Control valve to cylinder
- Inject CO2
- Assemble Mask/Elbow/Thermometer
- Fit insulated Delivery tube.
- Fit mask/tube assembly to Main body.
- Fit Inlet tube to Main body.
Do not administer if the casualty resists.
Humidified air below 42C is not effective. If the temperature will not increase inject more carbon dioxide OR change the soda lime. In the UK the normal colour of medical soda lime is pink changing to white when exhausted. Used soda lime is chalk and is no environmental hazard but please dispose of sensibly.
Trained first aiders may administer humidified Oxygen.
Set the freeflow on the Oxygen control valve to 7-8 litres per minute.
Attach the mask end of the Oxygen delivery tube to the Oxygen Port on the Little Dragon.
Administer to the casualty following the procedures given previously. The Oxygen will be warmed by passing through the internal heat exchanger and mixed with humidified ambient air as it passes into the main delivery tube.
Note that Oxygen is extremely flammable and naked lights - such as carbide lamps and Smoking must not be allowed.
Oxygen will also saturate clothing and make them flammable for long periods.
Rescue Practice CWM DWR.
The purpose of the practice was to test two drag stretchers - long and short - designed by me, in Cwm Dwr Choke and Cwm Dwr Crawl.
In the past drag stretchers have proved to be effective but prone to excessive damage so I thought it was time to try out low density polyethylene (LDPE) as the base material. LDPE has proved itself in roll-up stretchers as a very tough material that offers good casualty protection and versatility.
The Slix is the shorter and is basically a ballistic jacket designed to protect expensive spinal splints. It wraps under the arms and finishes at the top of the leg. The Long Slix was suggested by Gary to allow more control of the legs. A report from the Long Slix casualty follows.
Cwm Dwr Jama to Entrance Shaft. Long Slix
I was feeling a bit lazy on the morning of the rescue practice so volunteered to play the part of the casualty and get carried out of the cave. It was not a role I'd played before and was a little bit nervous but thought I'd give it a go. We were to use a cut down version of the plastic cocoon stretcher. This was full length but wrapped up closed underneath the arms, allowing a casualty to use hands to help if necessary and fend off the walls if the haul team got a bit rough
So I was strapped in place at the Jama with a piece of foam mat under my back for a bit of cushioning. The first drop into the crawl was negotiated by the team lowering me in feet first, there were initially concerns that I may end up going feet first out of the rest of the cave, however there was just enough room to turn me around at the start of the crawl. With a caver any taller than me this would probably not be possible and going down that drop head first would not be pleasant !
A rope was attached to the head of the stretcher so that a hauler could keep tension from some distance up the passage and I was man handled generally by one person at the head and one at the foot, clearly in the crawl. this was as many people as could get anywhere near. Most of the way I was able to travel flat on my back, having my arms free meant that the widest part of me (my shoulders) was fairly mobile and I could avoid snagging on the walls too often. Only I think once did I actually use my arms for propulsion, that was in a fairly narrow bend that I got slightly wedged in. I needed to be on my side to negotiate it, but the team could not manoeuvre me without it hurting, so I needed to help myself.
The flexible nature of the stretcher however made most comers relatively easy. The flat out squeeze really was the part I was dreading, claustrophobic feelings probably come out in all of us at the thought of being unable to manoeuvre oneself whilst in such a tight passage. However, with my head to the side and a hand near my face to fend off the roof if needed, I seemed to slide neatly through with little or no digging required and I managed to keep my panic/heart rate just about under control.
In one of the larger canyon rift passages I was carried in the roof tube on the shoulders of the haulers like a coffin and that technique also seemed to work well.
To get all the way back to the base of the entrance climb took approximately 2 hours I think, by which time I was beginning to feel the cold, having had a little bit of water running through the stretcher at a couple of points.
In all the experience wasn't too unpleasant, it must be remembered however that I'm not the biggest caver in the world, others may struggle to slide through quite so quickly, also in reality some form of casualty bag would be required as insulation hence making for a bigger package still. Also the specific injuries of a casualty would have to be considered before hauling through that route.
The team members were: Tony Baker, Nathan Critchlow, Pat Hall, Paul Huntley, Bob Hall and Rhys Williams (casualty).
Cwm Dwr Choke. Short Slix
The object of the exercise - to see if a casually, in a spinal splint, could be carried through the Cwm Dwr Choke from the OFD II side out. As far as we are aware this has not been achieved before.
The Slix worked well. The chest wraparound, under the arms, affords good protection and because the stretcher ends just below the buttocks, good manoeuvrability. The Cwm Dwr Choke is not an easy route for any stretcher but it was found that by careful manipulating and good coordination it was possible to get the casualty through without causing further
damage (always a good thing).
During the practice it was possible to turn the casualties, Jon Jones and then Jules, around. The crutch straps on the spinal splint caused Jon to squeak a little, to the extent that he was in danger of losing his ability to procreate and a changeover in the little chamber was deemed sensible.
The choke team consisted of Jon Jones, Gary Evans, Jules Carter, Ali Garman, lan Alderman and Andy Harp and took about 1_ hours.
The joint debrief decided that it is possible to get a casualty through Cwm Dwr Choke and Crawl and that the exercise was very worthwhile. Injuries would obviously be very important but an injury in the Jama that was too severe to be taken through the choke would have to come out of the crawl. In the event of an injury in the Piccadilly area the Cwm Dwr Choke and Crawl could be considered a viable route saving a lot of time. Again it must be emphasised that the injuries would dictate.
Editors note. Given an injury in the Jama or in the crawl the choice of evacuation route is pretty well prescribed!
The spinal splint used in the choke was the old style. The new crutch straps are much kinder and modifications to both of the Slix stretchers suggested at the debrief have been carried out.
Mid Wales Mine Rescue Practice, Sept 2000
The practice was held on the 23rd of Sept. at an old slate mine at Ratgoed, near Aberllefenni. Rescuers met at mid-day at a pre-determined point, and followed pretty pink arrows up through the Forestry plantation to a parking spot, near which they encountered a parked vehicle and a hysterical sister (Hazel Forbes in best acting mode). A note in the vehicle gave two names, the location of their trip, and a time for return, already some 4 hrs overdue.
Unfortunately the event was very poorly supported, but enough people were readied for underground to form two search parties.
The lower search party fairly soon found Clive Edwards, well, saw his light and heard him babbling incoherently (quote rescuer). Unfortunately the scenario was deliberately set so that he was some 50ft away and 50ft down across an underground chamber with no visible means of access. However some of the party quickly found a descending rope rigged in the next chamber, and one person was sent out with this info whilst Bob Hall kitted up.
It was at this point that Bob, attempting to get onto the rope commented, 'this rope's tight and, on looking over 'there's a body hanging on it !
As I was the 'body' I am still worrying about Bob's whispered greeting, (having abseiled down his bit of 9 mm), you'll pay far this'.
With assistance in rope handling from the top of the pitch, Bob effected a creditable SRT rescue after a mid rope First aid check, lowering himself and the casualty to the pitch foot, where he covered the casualty whilst helpers and equipment came down.
Chris Grimmett carried on down to find Clive the second casualty, and as we realised that numbers were short, Chris laid on his hands and lo! Clive was well again and became a rescuer. In fact even hysterical sister (Hazel) had been press ganged into running gear and herself up and down between the top of the hill and into level 7. This was not popular as Hazel hates hills and those of you who have been there know that Ratgoed is on a hill steeper than the average roof.
After packaging the casualty a lower from the pitch head was rigged to get the stretcher to the chamber floor, and work commenced to rig the further pitch down to level 8. This connection had been light/voice proved by Jon Jones and Kevin Diffey, who had been called out from level 5, and had successfully inferred and found the existence of another level still further down the hill. A bit of mining savvy was very useful here.
At this point, following a discussion about the best way to launch the casualty from the pitch head, it was decided that not enough manpower was available to be able to reverse the lower if need arose. Some discussion here about the course of action in a real
situation. The casualty (me) was released and the stretcher loaded with a stone to provide a dummy to lower ("so what's different?"- quote G Evans) with Ali German as barrow boy.
Everyone then left either up to 7 or down to 8, and dragged the gear back up the hill to the cars.
Believe it or not by this time it was getting on for 8pm as we packed and left. Those of the party who did not have to dash off for work etc, retired to Clive's house near Welshpool where we enjoyed a BBQ and a convivial drink and chat, grateful thanks to Clive and Helen for laying on a spread, sadly with not enough people to do justice.
Thanks go to all who came, it was hard but rewarding and enjoyable, I think most people found it a realistic incident, end a good test of procedure in a slightly different environment. Those who didn't come, where were you?
I have had some detailed comments from participants, further input is welcomed, as there are some serious issues of manpower and rigging to think through.
Sportlot Grant Progress
The final sign-off for the Sportlot Grant was awarded on September 12th and signed contracts arrived with us the next day. There had been a month of discussion and negotiation up that date agreeing eligibility of items, finalising the lease and obtaining final quotations.
The stores were cleared over two weekends in September with superb support from team members for what was a significant task. Obsolete and redundant equipment was skipped and an auction of some of it raised a few hundred pounds.
Building work commenced on Monday 18th September at No.2 Powell Street and the builders spent the first 2 weeks completely gutting the cottage and removing the chimney breasts. They are now rebuilding the first floor and preparing the new rear staircase. There will be somewhere in the region of a further 6 weeks work to do, giving a completion date for the building work of mid November.
Equipment and Vehicle ordering will take place during October and the aim will be to have everything arrive with us once the stores are complete. The old Landover will then be sold in early December.
A big thank you to everyone who has helped with the stores move and the planning work. Special thanks to Toby for moving rubble single handed to save the builders work and hence keep the time and costs down and to Graham Christian for significant effort in getting the Landrover specification and quotes sorted out.
If you have any queries regarding any aspect of the project, please do not hesitate to call me on 01639 730806 or Pete Dobson on 01792 846603.
Warden, Treasurer & Sportlot Project Co-ordinator
I was hoping to include a article on the very successful BCRC Cave Rescue Conference in Derbyshire. (where a WBCRT team won the stretcher race!) and a article on the First European Cave Rescue Conference (Nov ~999)
These will be included in the next issue.
I am afraid that time, work, other rescue business and life have prevented Gary, Graham and me getting them together for this issue.
I also make a plea for articles and reports to include. I would really like articles on the use and abuse of gear and techniques in particular the use of the GriGri.
This issue has no historical event - get thinking and write one !
And finally ...
The grant has allowed us to have first rate equipment in a modernised rescue store but we still need running expenses. Please do all you can. As long as it is legal (or not provable) we need your ideas, help and assistance throughout the year.
I note that the CRO, MRO and DCRO have all seen an increase in rescues this year. Be ready! Cave Safe!
The Winning Crew. BCRC Conference 2000.
(with Harvey lurking in the background - trying his luck)
© 2003 WBCRT