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Letter To The Editor

Dear Sir,

Caving and the Unconscious. (B.B. No. 225 June 1969.)

I don’t want to criticise Henry Oakley’s article, because really it is rather a good one.  But as I have a big point to make, perhaps I may make some similar ones first.

Drowning – Step 1.  Leave it out.  Ruben and Ruben (1962, Lancet, I, 780.  I can quote references, too!) showed that only insignificant amounts of water can be tipped down the throat.  Besides this, every second counts, and you must get some air into the subject’s lungs. Nowadays we are trained to do this while still swimming.

The Sylvester – Brosch method of artificial respiration is not as difficult as mouth to mouth, but it is also not so nearly so good.  The latter cannot be learnt without training.

To wait for one minute before finding out if the heart is beating is excessive.

Don’t model your training on the assumption that there will be two or three others handy to help. You may well be all on your own and should know how to manage.

Laying the subject on his side (the so called ‘coma position’) is not as easy and needs to be taught.  It is important to get it right and not to inflict a head injury in the process.

Cold Exposure.  This is far more dangerous than Oakley suggests.  The rescue organisation should be called out at an early stage.  We may gripe, but it is right.

The amphetamines, when given with glucose and water are excellent treatment for exhaustion.  I don’t know why Oakley descries them.

I’m surprised he has omitted the hot bath treatment.  This is the rescue organisation’s business, which means that it is every caver’s business. (You are all in the M.R.O.).  It is by far the most satisfactory way of treating hypothermia.  It was the only thing that could have saved the recent Meregill victim.  But on that occasion, although they had four hours to prepare it, they had no telephone (someone dropped them on the way) and so no precise information about the subject the other side of the sump.

This brings me to my big point.  Reading about emergencies passes the time and whets the appetite.  It is of no practical good.  To learn how to deal with case of near drowning you must take a life saving course.  Barry Lane and I did this last year and found it very useful.  We are this winter conducting classes for the Bronze Medallion of the Royal Life Saving Society from early October to mid-December and would welcome cavers who can swim.  The classes are from 6.30 to 7.30pm in the University Swimming Bath, Queen’s Road, Bristol 8.  Entry for visitors 2/6.  Entrance fee for examination 5/-.  Temperature of water 81oF.

Come and learn how to do it properly.

Oliver C. Lloyd M.D.
Hon. Sec.
Mendip Rescue Organisation.