Ambulance crews receive awards for nine-hour cave rescue to help patient
Five medics who conducted a nine-hour cave rescue which included a 40-minute wade through waist-high water and an 800ft climb to reach a patient with a head injury have been presented with prestigious awards.
Anna Challis, Craig Swinton, Nicola Baxter, Jason Buckle from our Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) worked with Jim Adler from Derbyshire Cave Rescue to save the life of a patient who had been hit in the head by falling rocks.
The HART team entered Speedwell Cavern in Castleton by boat, and then waded through water carrying medical kit above their heads.
However, to extricate the patient from the caves, the team had to organise an abseil, several crawls through confined spaces, and another half-mile wade through cold water.
The specialist ambulance crews have now been presented with Chief Commendations for providing an ‘outstanding service’ to EMAS.
Jim Alder, a technician for EMAS, explained that he was called to the caves as part of Derbyshire Cave Rescue at 4.30pm on October 22, as a climber had suffered a head injury.
He said: “When we reached the patient, he was huddled in a blizzard shelter and cold, frightened and in pain.
“He was secured in a stretcher, given pain relief and then we had to go back the way he had come.”
The patient was lowered 250ft down the cavern and Jim went with him so he could monitor him. At the bottom, he was put into a boat and then the teams waded through the freezing water to pull him out.
Jim added: “It was a job well done, but it was the most challenging cave rescue we have ever done.”
While Jim was with the patient, paramedics Jason and Anna made their way into the cave, and were later joined by Nicola and Craig.
Craig Swinton, from Mansfield, explained it took an hour to get from the surface to the patient before they could even start helping him out of the cave.
He said: “When we reached the patient, he was really cold as he had been down there for six hours and he didn’t know where he was. It was difficult to assess him.
“We were able to give him some pain relief and began the journey out.”
The patient was taken to the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield for further treatment.
Jason, from Worksop, joined HART in 2014 and explained this was the first real cave rescue he had performed.
He said: “It was a real challenge. We were wading through muddy brown water carrying the kit above our heads, and we had to rely on our headtorches for light. It was hard work.
“I was really surprised to hear we had been nominated for awards, but also really pleased. It now has pride of place on the mantelpiece.”
Our HART team regularly trains for incidents such as this by using a ‘rat-run’ which simulates confined space working, such as cave rescues. The paramedics have to crawl through tight spaces in pitch black and carrying medical kit.
Find out more about our HART team.