Students train to save cavers trapped underground

Students train to save cavers trapped underground

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More than 60 students participated in a mock rescue Friday, learning how to save four patients trapped in a cave in Albany County.

This was part of a week-long seminar hosted by the National Cave Rescue Commission.

Erin Lynch, from New Mexico, flew in to the area for this training. Her role in the simulation was that of Public Information Officer — often the person on scenes who interacts with reporters. She spoke to NewsChannel 13’s Rachel Tiede and photojournalist Willow Carey as part of her simulation role, but also generally on what it meant to be a student at this training.

“You are getting a lot of hands-on experience,” Lynch said. She is a Level 3 student, meaning the highest level.

“It’s so intense, and I know I learned so much this week,” Lynch said.

Emily Davis, a co-captain of the Albany – Schoharie Cave Rescue Team, said while the training is about saving lives, there is a heavily emphasis on conservation.

Due to concerns about safety and conservation, the rescue training leaders asked we keep the name and location of the Albany hill town cave private.

The Northeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc. manages the cave where the training was held today. Davis said they close the cave in the winter — both for the safety of humans, but also for the wellbeing of bats who hibernate in the cave.

Davis, and Greg Moore — the northeastern regional coordinator of the National Cave Rescue Commission — gave Tiede a chance to see where the bats roost for herself.

While waiting for the students to “save” one of the “patients” from the cave, Davis and Moore gave Tiede a small tour of the cave, sharing the history of the area. Click the video above to see GoPro footage from tha tour.

Students learn to save people from caves

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But that small tour also gave NewsChannel 13 a look at how the instructors keep the students safe — and how communication would work in a real rescue. Hard phone lines are brought into the cave, with relay points to keep tabs of the rescuers.

Moore added cave rescues are rare.

“In this area, honestly, I tell folks if we do a rescue every two to three years, it’s a busy season for us,” Moore said.

And he emphasized — caving can be done safely. He said always go in groups of three — that way someone can run for help if needed. He said always bring food and water, no matter how short you think the hike is going to be. Always wear a helmet, and go with someone who is familiar with the cave.

Moore said if people are interested in joining a caving group, or a “grotto,” there are local groups. Click here to find one near you.

Davis said it’s well worth it.

“If I were to be in a room with my friends and ask them how many of them had ever been someplace where no human being had ever been before, most of my friends would be able to raise their hand,” Davis said.