Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Level 1 Cave Rescue NCRC Training

I (Jeff) have been at the National Cave Rescue Commission (NCRC) training for the last 8 days ending on Saturday. The NCRC is a great organization that teaches cave rescue and other vertical types of rescue. None of the instructors or assistants are paid. In fact they pay their own way to teach the class. That dedication and their effort has saved many lives. There is a large group of NCRC trained rescuers here in Puerto Rico. Assuming you didn’t die from your injuries the NCRC trained rescuers will get you out safely and quickly. The training was held at the Guajataca Boy Scot Camp near San Sebastian. Lodging, meals, and snacks were included in the price of the class. This was the main component of the cost of the class. The other component of the price of the class included getting a moving van full of cave rescue gear from the states to PR as well as other incidentals. IMO the class was incredibly inexpensive. That being said the accommodations and food were what could be expected for approximately $30 a day per person. The first day was spent in class and after dinner we had our entrance tests. We had to ascend, change over, rappel down, ascend again, and then down climb. Then we had to tie 11 different knots all of which we would use repeatedly in the class. The second day was spent in and out of the class room. We packaged up a few patients and carried them around an obstacle course in the camp ground. One of the obstacles was a 24” 10 foot long drainage culvert.
The third day had class room work in the morning. Then in the afternoon we went out to a cliff. We practiced rigging hauling systems. We lowered and hauled several kinds of patients.The fourth day was similar but in the afternoon we went to Cueva Minga to practice moving a patient around in a cave.The same thing on the fifth day but we went to Cueva Resergence. This time we had to lower and haul the patient like we did on the cliff.
The sixth day was spent doing a mockup of the mock rescue at Cueva Lechuga. The seventh day was the mock rescue at cueva Matja. All levels of classes were involved. We treated this as a real rescue. That meant a lot of misinformation and waiting around for some people. We all couldn’t be part of the hasty search team. There was a lot of uninteresting work that needed to be done. I got tasked with trail maintenance for the first couple of hours. Then I waited for a couple of more hours doing nothing. Then I got to go in the cave for the rest of the day. We had to get 3 patients out of some tight spots. Some of these spots were belly crawls. Everything went well and there were some level one students who stepped up and took the lead of several teams. There were over a hundred people involved with the rescue.

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