The Colorado Cave Rescue Network (CCRN) holds a caving rescue seminar roughly every two years in Colorado, alternating between Cave of the Winds in Colorado Springs and Glenwood Caverns and Historic Fairy Caves, located at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. The most recent seminar took place April 13-14 in Glenwood Springs, with one day at the Glenwood Springs Community Center and one day in the caves at Glenwood Caverns. The two-day event catered both to cave explorers wanting to learn the basics of rescue and to rescue personnel wishing to increase their knowledge in the field.
“The seminar is really to update cavers on how to rescue people,” said Ken Headrick, a tour guide at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park and a volunteer during the seminar. “We spend one day at the community center with a classroom setting to learn about cave rescue, and then we actually perform a real rescue on the second day. They hide people in the cave, and the scenario this year was four lost people we had to find. It took a few hours, but it was overall the best rescue we’ve had.”
This year’s seminar attracted 34 participants from around the state, in addition to 22 volunteers, ranging from locals such as Headrick to caving experts and speakers from the Front Range. A number of volunteers were also required to handle the logistics of the seminar, such as caving gear. One of the key areas of focus during the seminar was evacuations involving extreme injuries, such as broken backs, which prevent cavers from crawling out themselves. A large portion of the weekend was dedicated to packaging cavers onto litters, which were then carried out of the caves by other members of the group.
“For the search and rescue personnel, it gives them the experience to actually practice a cave rescue,” said Marty Reames, director of the CCRN as well as an instructor for the National Cave Rescue Commission (NCRC). “From the caver’s perspective, it provides an education on what it really takes to get someone out. We end up creating safer cavers by helping them realize the ramifications of getting hurt.”
The next major cave rescue seminar in Colorado will be held in May of 2014 in Divide, CO. This weeklong session will be an NCRC event.