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Saint Cuthberts Practice Rescue

by Martin Grass.

A practice rescue was held in St. Cuthbert’s on Saturday 5th. December 1981.  It was decided to see if an injured caver could be carried through the September Boulder Ruckle.  The Victim was Jane Clarke and the team consisted of Graham Wilton-Jones, Kangy and Jonathon King, Graham Price, Chris Smart, Graham Johnson, Rachel Clarke and Martin Grass.

We entered the cave at 1150hrs and made. our way to September Chamber via the Wire Rift and Boulder Chamber.  Once we had arrived in the Chamber Kangy started showing us suitable methods of strapping a victim into a drag sheet.  A Whillans Sit Harness was placed on the victim and this was used to secure her in the drag sheet using one length of rope and making various handles with it at the same time.  While this was going on I suddenly realised we were one rescue member short - we had lost Chris in the Boulder Ruckle!  After a lot of shouting, mainly from him, he finally emerged saying he could hear us very clearly for the past 15 minutes but could not get to us.

It was agreed Jane had concussion and a broken arm, as this meant one arm could be secured inside the drag sheet (a broken leg would have been much better but we had no splints).

The carry started at 1310hrs and went slowly at first but, once we got into a rhythm things moved quickly, our main problem being the confined nature of the ruckle, which sometimes meant all rescuers were behind the victim!   About ¾ of the way through the Ruckle a tight dog-leg squeeze caused about a 10 minute delay but, once extra hauling ropes had been attached, the problem was solved (a patient with a broken leg or back would have a major problem here).  The rest of the carry went very smoothly and we arrived in High Chamber at 1445hrs. With Jane out of the drag sheet we all left the cave and made exit at 1520hrs after a very worthwhile exercise.

Conclusions: The only complaint Jane had was that a Whillans Sit Harness is very painful between the legs for females (hope we didn't ruin a good weekend for you, Bassett).  She suggests that leg loops would be far more comfortable.

Thanks to all those that turned up to help.