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Report of the Hon. Secretary of the M.R.O.

(abridged) - Dr. Oliver Lloyd

Cave Rescues and Incidents

There were six of these in the twelve months, (there were in fact 7 – this being added to this report as 4A – Ed) which is again an improvement on last year.  The most notable change has been an absence of Swildon’s Hole rescues, since the loss of the 40ft. pitch due to the floods of July 10th. It must, however, not be assumed that the present route taken by the stream and by cavers would be passable in the event of a real flood.  The bar and pulley over the 40’ in Suicide’s Leap were carried away by the flood. Arrangements will be made to replace them.

1. Cuckoo Cleeves, 10-3-68

Axbridge C.G. found a large party of juvenile novices led by Adventure Unlimited which had got into difficulties.  They were ill-equipped and were having difficulty re-ascending the 13ft. pot by their knotted rope.  A.C.G. helped them to the surface.  M.R.O. was not called out.

2. Sidcot Swallet, 13-4-68

Member of 1st Kingston Hill Venture Unit got stuck at head of final drop.  M.R.O. called at 1.55pm and by 2.20pm party from B.E.C. had reached the cave and brought caver to surface at 3pm.

3. Sump Rescue Turnout to Pontypool, Mon. 22-4-68

At 8.10pm Dr. Lloyd received a telephone call from Mel Davies in Pontypool to say that sump apparatus and divers were needed to explore flooded conduit, in which two children were believe to have been lost.  Lloyd and Savage reached Pontypool Police Station at 10.00pm and learnt that the incident had been concluded:  it was a false alarm.

4. Nine Barrows Swallet,  12-5-68

Benham, aged 34, caving with E.S.C.C. was climbing in Crystal Chamber when he fell and broke his tibia and fibula in one leg.  At 2.50pm Dr. Thompson was called out, arriving at cave 3.10pm.  He splinted both legs together and put him into the carrying sheet.  He was out of the cave in about one hour.

4a. Swildon’s Hole,  25-5-68

Party of three cavers became exhausted in the Double troubles.  Search party got together.  Returning party of divers escorted the party to the 40’ where rescue team met them.  16 people were put on standby.

5. Swildon’s Hole,  26-5-68

Martyn, a novice caver with more enterprise than resources, having had his first caving experience the previous day in Burrington, descended Swildon’s Hole in a party of three. He had no wet suit, but in spite of the delay at the 40’ he went down to end through sump 1, only to find on his return he was too cold to climb the 40’ ladder.  Entered cave at 12.30pm and the incident began at about 4pm.  4.40pm M.R.O. called and advance party entered cave at 5.10pm.  Meanwhile his party with the aid of the Clifton College cavers rigged up a double lifeline on the pulley in Suicide’s Leap and Martyn climbed without any difficulty.  The subject emerged at about 5.50pm.

Webb (leader of Martyn’s party, had been a member of CSS) but this was not one of the Club’s trips. A certain amount of ill-feeling resulted from inaccurate reporting of the incident.  Reference to the Warden’s log shows that inaccuracies did not stem from there.

6. Swildon’s Hole,  2-7-68

At 9.30pm Robin Main called at Belfry to say that two cavers, who had entered the cave at noon, had not returned the keys.  Turner and party, after checking local pubs went down and searched the upper series leaving the cave at 11.30pm.  (The 40’ wasn’t laddered).  They could not be found.

Practice rescues were carried out in the following caves during 1968: -

St. Cuthbert’s; Longwood; Swildon’s and G.B. Cavern.  Besides these, baths practices were held with the new neoprene bag and the Sump Rescue Apparatus Mk.2.

A Swildon’s practice held on the 40’ (after the flood) by S.M.C.C. brought the following comments by Bob Craig: …for the first 10ft. three people are necessary in the chamber below the 40’.  Two people on the ledge above the 10ft. drop and below the squeeze at the rift end are essential.  As there is no room to pass in the rift, 4 people should then take over and be prepared to carry up the new rift.  The waterfall pitch below the Water Chamber creates no problems but a person halfway up this 15ft. drop is useful to guide the “victim” and supply some pull.

On 14-8-68 a meeting of Wardens with Chief Inspector Reese of the Wells Police discussed various subjects including Walkie Talkies – Wells Police have to hire them from the Home Office and are kept at Keynsham so make time to obtain them during rescue; relations with press – during rescue reporters should be referred to Warden in charge on surface, who will have detailed off a member of M.R.O. to act as Press relations.  Afterwards refer them to the Warden in charge; NO COMFORT COULD BE OFFERED TO A RESCUER, IF HE WAS CONVICTED OF HAVING EXCESSIVE BLOOD ALCOHOL LEVEL WHILE DRIVING ON HIS WAY TO A RESCUE.