Monday, March 17

Death Walks Behind You - Dan-yr-Ogof Cave Rescue

A morbid start to a Monday morning? Well not intentionally -there is a happy outcome to this piece.

Personally if I'm going to Catch That Bullet and Breathe My Last I'd prefer to do it out in the open air looking at the sky, or possibly the stars. It's too early to comment on the sad circumstances behind the discovery of Manchester's chief constable Michael Todd and frankly not the business of the general public whatever the newspapers may currently believe. But amongst the tragedy there's an inkling of why this particular place should have become the man's last view of the world.

So it will come as no surprise to learn that my interest in caving is extremely limited. I've read some of the literature on the subject, and know a couple of cavers, but personally I like my air bright and my views extensive, despite cave exploring being the last frontier for exploration in many parts of the world.

So it was good news to hear this morning that the two cavers trapped by flood water in Brecon's Dan-yr-Ogof caves have finally made it to the surface.

The real message here was the very high quality of risk assessment & preparation already built into the caver's plans before they started their trip:
"The men were in an area of a cave that is known to flood occasionally but had access to a rescue cache of food, warm clothing, a stove and candles (here)........There is also a fixed telephone line system in this cave as well, so what they've managed to do is to tap into that telephone line system (here) "

Looking at the Dan-yr-Ogof Cave Advisory Committee access conditions its clear there has been some solid fail safes built in as a prerequisite to cave entry, on the assumption that things may go wrong in this very difficult environment, but lessen likelihood of tragedy.

A lesson for us all to consider when we next go on the hills. Not a call for extensive but joy destroying rules & regulations. But an honest assessment of what may go wrong, and some simple plans in place to fall back on if the worst should happen.

And then enjoy the trip safe in the knowledge that, like a good Boy Scout, you will Be Prepared.

See - I promised a happy ending.

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