Glenwood: Cave rescues are difficult, but rare
Glenwood Springs Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Conducting a rescue operation in the mountains is tough enough.
Imagine trying to rescue someone inside a cave. The challenges are many.
Global positioning system receivers don’t work, and cell phones can’t make a call, either.
“We actually have to haul in an Army field phone, which is a technology that you don’t typically see in a lot of environments,” said Marty Morey, associate director of the Colorado Cave Rescue Network, an organization that trains rescuers and maintains equipment.
“You might bring people up through pits and take them through tight, nasty (passages),” Morey said.
Morey was one of 13 instructors who taught roughly 80 students about how to overcome some of those obstacles during a two-day cave rescue seminar held in Glenwood Springs recently.
Rescuers practiced carrying victims through an obstacle course and also took part in a full-scale rescue drill at the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.
“Caving is not a particularly dangerous activity for properly equipped and trained cavers, but accidents can and do happen,” said Steve Beckley, a caver who co-owns the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park with his wife, Jeanne.
About 60 percent of the 80 students who are participating in the seminar are “cavers” ” simply, people who go underground ” while the others were associated with search-and-rescue groups in Colorado, Morey said.
Cave rescues are rare ” there have been only about two in the last 10 years in Colorado, Morey said.
“It’s maybe 12 hours, if we are lucky and everything goes well, before we can get the first rescue people on site,” she said. “In 12 hours without basic medical care, it could get really severe.”
The seminar also introduced cavers to some of the risks and to encourage them to be “extra, extra careful and don’t get hurt in the first place,” Morey said.
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