Rescue Practice in Gough's Cave



Diving Report and Comment

June 2011

Gough's Cave Rescue Practice, team and stretcher
Rescue team and stretcher:
Photograph C Westlake

Malc Foyle, Jon Beal, Mike Thomas, Clive Westlake, Claire Cohen, Emma Heron, John Williams, Chris Jewell, Phil Rowsell, Charles Reid-Henry and Andy Judd.


The goal was a combined rescue practice with the CDG Somerset section and Mendip Cave Rescue (MCR) to rescue injured diver from the duck ponds (far side of sump 1) in Gough's cave. The casualty was not dived through the sump. To reduce the time required, the rescue from the duck ponds by the divers and the haul of a casualty from the diving platform were run simultaneously.

Diving kit was carried into the cave on Friday night with help from MCR personnel. On Saturday 11 divers dived through sump 1 in 3 waves, separated by approx 30 minutes to eliminate congestion on diving platform. The first set of divers entered the cave at 09:30 and had dived the sump by 10:10. Once the first set of divers reached the farside of Sump 1, a HeyPhone was set up next to the sump and very clear communication was established with surface. The equipment taken through sump was a Hibbs stretcher, HeyPhone and a diving first aid kit. The HeyPhone was then moved to the top of Bishop's Palace and excellent communications were again established, while the rest of the team dived through Sump 1. All divers were through the sump by 11:19 (approximately 2 hours from the first divers entering to the last diver arriving at Bishop's Palace). Divers progressed to the Duck Ponds. A short casualty-care talk was given by Phil Rowsell and then the divers were briefed on the rescue situation at 11:40 - Andy Judd had fallen while climbing with a broken leg and arm, and a possible spinal injury. The casualty was stabilised, packaged in stretcher and carried to Sump 1. The rescue and carry was run in a workshop style with divers changing roles. The casualty arrived at Sump 1 at 13:30 (two hours to move casualty from the Duck Ponds to sump 1). The divers returned through Sump 1 by 15:15 (1 ¾ hours for divers to return), where MCR personnel helped with the removal of all diving kit from the cave. The diving Rescue practice ended by 16:00.

Overall Comments

Timing worked extremely well, the staggering of the divers into teams allowing efficient kitting/de-kitting and travelling through the sump. Clear HeyPhone communications were established in Bishop's Palace, both at the farside of sump 1 and at the top of Bishop's Palace. Good casualty-care was achieved on the casualty, reassurance, observations (pulse, GCS etc) to the extent that it was quickly picked up that the casualty had gone unconscious. Good team work was achieved and the casualty was moved efficiently to the sump 1 despite several awkward sections of passage. The number of divers for the rescue was about right, 1 HeyPhone operator, 1 casualty carer, 5-7 people to move stretcher. (Clive Westlake - taking photos, Andy Judd - Casualty). The carry took 2 hours.

Goughs cave rescue practice, Hay Phone operations
Hay Phone operations:
photograph C Westlake
Goughs Cave rescue practice, volunteer casualty in stretcher
The 'casualty' packaged for transport:
Photograph C Westlake

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