Rescue Training

Discuss training events, techniques, equipment, safety and related issues. Click here to visit the National Cave Rescue Commission webpage.

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Rescue Training

Postby hunter » Nov 30, 2009 3:52 pm

Ok, so the recent thread on Nutty Putty got me thinking on a bit of a tangent. Because I don't want to imply in any way that this relates to the NP (aside from getting me thinking) rescue I started a new thread. I should also clarify that I did NCRC level one long ago but I am by no means a rescue expert which is why much of this post is phrased as a question.

Someone mentioned that a great deal of the NCRC training is related to rope and this got me thinking, does the NCRC cover digging techniques in the course of a rescue? Specifically, the use of hammer drills with feathers and wedges, micro-blasting, etc? It seems like there are many circumstances (particularly with a stretcher) where widening a short tight spot would be reasonable. In addition these are specialty techniques and tools like feathers and wedges are not so easy to find so it seems like advance training and preparation might be worthwhile?

James
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Re: Rescue Training

Postby NZcaver » Nov 30, 2009 11:42 pm

hunter wrote:Someone mentioned that a great deal of the NCRC training is related to rope and this got me thinking, does the NCRC cover digging techniques in the course of a rescue? Specifically, the use of hammer drills with feathers and wedges, micro-blasting, etc?

Yes. All levels usually spend some time practicing crack and crevice problems. Level 2 students generally get to play with moving rocks using various mechanical devices, and I assume level 3 students are still given an intro to micro-shaving techniques (they used to be).

When Anmar reads this, he should be able to clarify with further details. This is one of his pet topics.
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Re: Rescue Training

Postby hunter » Dec 1, 2009 12:38 am

Thanks NZ, good to know. I spend a lot of time well past tight spots.
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Re: Rescue Training

Postby shibumi » Dec 3, 2009 9:52 am

Without getting into the internal politics of this topic, one criticism (and one I've made ad nauseum) of NCRC is that we are very heavy in teaching technical rope issues while not covering other aspects of cave rescue as well. This has some historical significance which I'm happy to discuss over a cold beverage of choice, but have no desire to write a dissertation on right now. This is one reason I became involved with NCRC beyond being a student, was to work on changing the rope focus to one that is more balanced. In the 15 years since I became an instructor, then Regional Coordinator, and now National Coordinator, I and many others who recognized the same deficit, have worked quite hard to make NCRC more reflective of cave rescue realities, which meant deemphasizing advanced technical rigging to work on developing more solid core skills in our students. We have come a long way. I feel we still have a ways to go, but we are moving in the right direction.

The problem we face is that like advanced rigging, unless one has a passion for a subject, it is difficult to teach beyond a simple "awareness" (professional rescue term) level. NCRC tries to stay away from getting in depth in teaching medical for instance because those interested can take outside medical classes. Instead we teach medical things that the average caver can use, and we teach how cave medicine differs from street medicine. The same occurs for other disciplines. As far as crack and crevice goes, Levels 2 and 3 spend a day on crack and crevice situations, some of the tools involved, and techniques for dealing with them. However, going beyond that really is beyond the purview of the weeklong general class. As those who know my passion for digging and being in tight places in general know, I could teach an entire week just on modifying rock, or we could spend an entire day just on the physiology of entrapment. It is difficult to set up scenarios that don't also place the mock patient in danger. So we teach an "awareness" level. This is designed to let the class know what sorts of things are possible, rather than the specific techniques for doing each of them. We teach the use of common tools like comealongs and portapowers which are useful and easy to learn but can save a lot of time if a student encounters the need for them in a "for real" situation. We teach the use of anchors appropriate for tight situations requiring fast deployment and ease of relocating (chocks, stemples, artificial pro, etc).

Skills like blasting and microshaving are even more highly technical and specialized and while they may be demonstrated, they are not "taught".


The problem NCRC runs into is the lack of people who have those skills who can also teach outside of their specialties becoming involved as instructors. We are working on developing specialty classes that may be offered alongside the national class, but these things are tricky to develop, and can often be dependent on having the one or two top people in the field available that week. Because a lot of skills like that are an artform more than a technical skill that can be taught out of a manual.

Anmar Mirza, NCRC National Coordinator
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