The SCMC and MCRO
The Shropshire Caving and Mining Club is one of the major team members of the Midlands Cave Rescue Organisation (MCRO). As such we can be called out to help with a variety of underground problems.
Although the area we cover is comprised mainly of old mine workings (several of which are unstable), we have been very fortunate in that there has not been a major incident in our area for a number of years (although we have been called out to provide backup support to other areas).
We hold regular training and practice sessions for our own team and in conjunction with other teams that make up the MCRO. We also hold 'familiarisation' exercises with local Fire & Rescue teams and members attend training session with West Brecon Cave Rescue Team and other CROs.
Rescue Practice at Huglith Mine
On Saturday 3rd October, 2009 twenty one members of SCMC and Dudley Caving Club, plus 2 crews and an Incident Commander from Shropshire Fire & Rescue took part in a MCRO rescue practice at Huglith Mine, Shropshire.
The day involved practicing several different techniques for underground stretcher hauling in a difficult situation (passing large loose boulders on a vertical pitch). A lot was learnt about the value of Tyrolean Traverses in such situations.
For the benefit of the Shropshire Fire & Rescue personnel a location was selected which allowed the MineCam to be used to show the action underground.
The Fire Service brought along a tender, plus their off-road 6x6 Pinzgauer, although this could reach the entrance to the mine adit, it had little spare carrying capacity, but proved useful in ferrying the stretcher, ropes etc.. closer to the scene.
A sucessful day, with a lot of lessons learnt.
Thanks to the Forestry Commision and local land owners for permission to access their land.
Stretcher Rescue with a Winch
As a practice exercise it was decide to rig the Club winch over the top of Chapel Shaft, Snailbeach (165m to a blockage) to see how easy it would be to haul a stretcher up the shaft - if anyone had an accident on the 40 Yard level (100m below shaft collar) or lower this shaft would be the logical one to use for recovery.
Several dummy runs with (heavy) bags of rock in the stretcher were made up and down the shaft, before the underground team removed the bags of rocks, then practiced loading the stretcher and ensuring it could be swung safely back into the shaft with a jockey (one of the underground team) riding on it, with the casualty.
The stretcher, and first aider were then successfully hauled the 100m to surface.
A couple of points to note: with no load on the rope (ie empty stretcher) the winch cable does not lay correctly when winding up and (in deep shafts) you need a lamp on the stretcher to see where it is!