THE NSW Cave Rescue Service held an exercise at Bungonia Caves last weekend in a section of the Argyle Cave called ‘Flattener’, which is only wide enough for one person to squeeze through at a time.
It also has five other sections known as Pitches 1-4 (‘pitches’ are underground cliffs) involving abseiling down the cliff wall; and the ‘Keyhole’, a very narrow entry hole to the cave.
“This cave system is very popular with adventurers and cavers who have experience in abseiling and rock-climbing type activities,” vice president/captain of the rescue team Joe Sydney said.
“These are only a few of the 190 caves in the Bungonia system, with hundreds of tourists also visiting each year. The potential therefore, for a rescue operation can be huge.
“The cave system is mainly vertical, very ‘sporty’, and a popular cave for intrepid adventurers and cavers. It also has the perfect atmosphere for a cave rescue, so we decided to conduct an extrication exercise in here, to determine how long it would take to retrieve a casualty in a stretcher.
“We also determined what resources were required, and the exercise also helped to improve squad teamwork.”
This was an internal exercise by the NSW Cave Rescue Squad (NSWCRS) with the scenario of extricating the ‘casualty’ from the cave Pitch 4 (which has a 14m high wall, and is 4m wide) and bringing them all the way to the surface, through ‘Flattener’, which is only wide enough, as Mr Sydney describes “for someone with good bone structure, and is fairly skinny”.
They also had to negotiate the ‘Keyhole’, which is a very narrow opening at the entrance to the cave.
The exercise took 12 hours to complete, with 17 cave rescuers assisting.
“The NSWCRS would like to thank the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), and Bungonia National Park for allowing us to conduct this successful cave rescue exercise within the park and its caves,” Mr Sydney said.
The NSW Cave Rescue Squad meets monthly to conduct rescue operations and also for committee and planning meetings.
They work with the local police and fire rescue units in Goulburn and surrounding areas, and also throughout NSW.
“We ‘float’ around the state and assist the local rescue units if they need it. I personally know the Police Rescue guys in Goulburn, and have built up a good relationship with them,” Mr Sydney said.
If for any reason you need emergency assistance, or you or one of your friends is stuck in a cave, call 000 first, and ask for the police. If it involves a more complex rescue, please call the NSWCRS (NSW Cave Rescue Squad) on 0428 158 777.
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