Cave rescue protocol

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Cave rescue protocol

Postby barcelonacvr » Dec 20, 2006 8:06 am

I am compiling a list of local cavers that would be available for call out in case of an emergency in a new karst area being developed for public education.Unfortunately our local fire dept will NOT do ANY confined space rescue as part of their policy.They are firm on this.Of course 911 would be the first call in an event of a problem but we want to have a protocol in place to quickly draw out suitable cavers and have a list of gear available.

This is fine as we have a few cavers that have taken NCRC/BC rescue etc and the cave is just one long crawl with only one shaft but the potential for falls and lost /hypothermic etc spelunkers is there.

Does any one have a form I could see for an example for site organization?

Is there a protocol for minimum gear that should be available and or a required maintenance schedule that should be adhered to minimize liability?

I will of course contact NCRC/Phil Whitfield) BC Rescue for their guidance but I wonder of anyone has any insight on compiling such a list

What would be considered minimum training to assist in a rescue?

I am only confined space rescue certified but hopefully I will take some NCRC courses in the future .Please take my questions with a grain of salt.I volunteered to do the list simply because I have the time and of course to contribute.

Thank you

I would appreciate any input.
Last edited by barcelonacvr on Dec 20, 2006 6:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Stridergdm » Dec 20, 2006 12:45 pm

Sounds like you're going about this in generally the right way. Your local NCRC Coordinator is your best resource for much of this.

I would recommend a couple of things:

Check with the FD/EMS as to who would be the legal authority if 911 is called. Work closely with them, earn their respect and make sure they know to call you. It's not entirely unheard of for Agencies to try to affect a rescue while ignoring the local caving resources. Some of this is ignorance. Some of this is because of the concern (rightly or wrongly) that local cavers won't respect the LA's position, that they won't or can't integrate with the local command protocols, etc. In most places, once 911 is activated, the legal authority has complete legal jurisdiction and will be calling the shots. And not all cavers necessarily know or respect that.

I'd also recommend you get your NCRC Coordinator to put together a two day OCR class. Get the FD there. Even if they never step into a cave after the class, they'll understand more what's involved. When you say, "Yeah, they're 100 yards from the entrance but it's going to take 3 evac teams and 3 hours" they won't think you're nuts or incompetent.

For each cave if possible, develop a written rescue plan. This will include an idea of what you think you will need for most rescues. Be prepared to alter this during an actual rescue of course.

I'd take a trip to each cave and take notes. "Hmm, this crawl will require a patient in a Sked, not a Ferno." "Hmm, can we get the patient up this slope with just a handline, or will we need a rigging team and ropes?"

Try to have at least an initial gear cache for your IRTF (Initial Response Task Force if you're using ICS). This should include blankets, warming materials and basic first aid supplies. Other equipment generally can be gathered as needed. (i.e. you may not need a dedicated set of ropes as long as you know at least a couple of vertical cavers will always be available.)

Find out what other resources you can borrow. Do you need your own Sked/Ferno in the cache or can the FD loan theirs?

If I were building a rescue cache (and I am sort of, but we also have a local one for full-scale rescues) I'd concentrate on stuff to stabilize the patient. Basically the blankets, etc. above.

As for maintenance schedule:
Store the ropes correctly they should last for years. Same with hardware.
Generally the bigger problem is stuff getting lost as people use it for training or after a rescue.

As for minimal training...
I had taken an OCR a few years back. Ended up sitting on top of the tripod over the pit most of the time.

I'd recommend that as many people take an OCR as you can get. That can be done locally pretty easily. (Heck I'd even volunteer to help, but my wife might object to even MORE time away from home. :-)

I'd recommend at least a few folks take Level 1 NCRC and anyone you expect to be a team leader to take Level 2.

Level 3 is a lot of fun and VERY educational, but really focuses more on innovating and specialty stuff. Not necessarily what you need for something like this. (Though again I'd still recommend it. :-)

Hope that helps.
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Postby Tim White » Dec 20, 2006 2:24 pm

Contacting the NCRC Regional Coordinator would be good start, but eramosakarst's address is Ontario (Canada). :doh:

eramosakarst- I would start with a list of all willing caver resources. BUT... would have all those interested fill out a resource resume listing their training, skills, abilities (SRT, rigging, medical, etc.) Once you have this data you can establish what level of resource gets called for a specific event. I'll e-mail you a sample resume as soon as I get a chance.
Last edited by Tim White on Mar 15, 2007 7:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby barcelonacvr » Dec 20, 2006 7:00 pm

Thank you gentlemen! I appreciate the responses,you are both very helpful and educational.

We do have at least one member in our club that is instructor level so he will do the brunt of things but I will do the leg work on organizing things. for him.

Thanks again

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Postby Stridergdm » Mar 14, 2007 3:40 pm

How'd things turn out on this?

Any progress?
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Postby Dane » Mar 14, 2007 5:15 pm

Ontario uses the Incident Command System (or similar). I think that would be an excellent place to start.

I think OSHA's recommendations would be helpful in setting this up. I'm sure OH&S has something similar.

The Canadian Emergency Mgmt College is in Ottawa, so local resources should be available.
As Stridergdm suggested, this would ensure that you and the local emergency responders are speaking the same language.
I believe Fire Chiefs there, like here in the states, are usually designated as Emergency Action Coordinators for the local municipality as well. As such, they should be familiar with the need to call in resources that are not part of the normal fire department or other emergency responders. Typically this would be specialists, such as electricians, heavy-equipment operators, etc, but would also include those with more sophisticated/specialized training such as confined space/cave and/or rigging.
In many, if not most communities in the states, cave and cliff rescue teams started out as volunteer sub-sets of the local emergency management agency.
It should be (and is here!) a welcomed addition to community EMS capabilities, and it allows a great bunch of people to give back to their community.
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