Post by Chad Dubuisson on May 27, 2009 21:49:17 GMT -5
ORME, TENNESSEE (WRCB) -- Rescue crews say Richard Hartman had no business climbing inside a dangerous cave in Orme, Tennessee. Now, many in the tiny town want the cave sealed shut before someone gets seriously hurt.
It took rescue crews three hours to reach Hartman. He was 40 feet inside one of the deepest, steepest caves in Marion County.
"These right here didn't have no hard helmets, or nothing," explained James Dirdee. "Most of the time they have helmets and stuff like that, but they just heard about the cave and said, 'Lets go explore!"
It's an exploration, Dirdee tells us could have turned deadly. Four of his friends from Bridgeport, Alabama, decided to go where few people have been before.... deep inside a watershed cave on Orme Mountain.
These guys basically took some 16mm or so Manila laid rope and used bailing twine to loop it through the bolt hanger, they then half hitched it to the big rope a few times. Insanity!
Brad might be able to tell you more, I was late getting there and had nothing to do with it besides showing up too late to be useful. He actually talked to these two guys & learned some interesting things.
I get the impression that the rescuers are criticizing those trapped for exploring. I do not know if the rescuers were professional or voluntary. In the UK - where there are no 'professional' or 'statutory' cave rescue teams - it is extremely unusual for rescuers to criticize the rescued - regardless of the reason for the incident.
A few years ago we had a Sunday evening call out to some stone quarries in Cardiff. Three lads had gone exploring, cocked it up and one had managed to get back to a position to use his cell phone to call for help. In the UK stone mines are sometimes called quarries. In this instance the police had responded by alerting the fire service and mountain rescue - who on arrival discovered the lads were actually underground so we were called. We arrived to a circus of mountain rescue, police and firemen with a rescue helicopter hovering. These three lads had entered the 'quarry' via large conical run in surface shaft on top of the hill and had explored to another vertical shaft which they has descended for some 12m on bailing twine. Upon landing on a ledge they discovered another vertical shaft of some 15m and they had run out of twine! They then spent several hours trying to re climb the shaft and eventually one lad succeeded - got to the bottom of the run in shaft and found he had a cell phone signal - so called the police. After asking the helicopter to leave (down draft was causing a real threat of disturbing the rubbish around the surface shaft) we sent a couple of the team down. There we found two mr lads who had abseiled in but could not prussik out. The two lads at the bottom of the 12m were hauled up and the whole party then took another route out to the bottom of the hill. It turned out that these lads often explored these quite extensive quarries and this was a new area to them - and news to the very irate quarry manager as the lower part of the mine is still working. When the lads and the team came back to control the police and the quarry owner started to bollock them for causing so much trouble. It is interesting that the voluntary cave rescuers thought that they had just gone a bit far. Indeed I asked a senior policeman if he would prefer they spent their evenings mugging old ladies for their handbags in Cardiff! This type of criticism is seen, in the UK, by the statutory rescue crews - which I find a bit strange as, after all, that is what they actually get paid for. Is nobody allowed to be adventurous anymore without bringing the whole wrath of authority upon themselves if things go wrong? Ask yourself about the scrapes you got into as a kid - scrapes which might have made you the person you are now. We did give the lads details of our caving club but as far as I know they never responded. Oh well perhaps we will come across them again some time.
Post by Chad Dubuisson on Oct 2, 2009 13:57:22 GMT -5
I think I understand your post. I AM criticizing them for exploring, mainly for exploring with substandard vertical kit. I read your story and these kids were in a similar situation. Their ambition to explore placed them in a situation where one of them could not return to the surface. As a consequence of those decisions, many rescuers were called out to the scene, and if you are a rescuer your self, then you can relate to the haste with which rescue teams respond to situations like this. Sometimes, rescuers get injured or die en-route to rescue calls, to save the lives of others. So when we arrive at rescue calls and the reason for the call is some ill equipped people who got in over their heads, yes, I believe a little criticism of their approach is allowable. These "victims" have a right to privacy, so we can not discuss their names or personal information, but we sure as hell can talk openly about what they did to put themselves in the position of needing a rescue.
To be fair, a discussion of proper exploration gear and access and phone numbers to the local grotto was provided to them, though it is doubtful they will ever exploit this resource.
It's one thing when properly equipped explorers, using proper gear and kit have an unfortunate accident, I can personally relate, as I've been the cause of a horrible caving accident myself. It's totally another thing when unequipped, untrained "explorers" get everyone out of bed at 2am because they didn't or wouldn't take the time to learn how to do something right.
I'd be willing to bet that both you and me, along with most everyone else on this forum, use proper gear and equipment to explore caves. We don't rappel on rope from the local hardware store and use Prusiks made of twine. Why not? Because we have taken our safety and education seriously and learned the right ways to do things and invested in the expensive equipment to use to do it right without getting killed. I hope these kids had a similar moment of enlightenment about their safety.
When I started out as a kid, 13 years old, rappelling, I couldn't afford nice PMI static line like I have now. Instead, we bought polyester ski rope from the local store and used that. Breaking strength of ~225lbs. I figured that to be enough, since I only weighted ~135lbs. This was the immortal mentality I had when I was a kid and I do understand it. Sometimes I wonder how any of us made it past that stage of stupid mistakes. Well, that rope eventually broke on me and I did fall over 30' on to the ground. Lucky for me, I was not injured beyond getting the wind knocked out of me. Should I have been criticized for exploring that tree? Probably so.
I guess these kids hopefully learned a similar lesson from their fiasco, but to be able to criticize them, yes, I believe I've walked a long enough road to be able to look over my shoulder and say, "Man, I was stupid," or "man, that was stupid." I don't get paid to rescue, I do it because if I was hurt, I'd want the best cavers out there to be willing to come help me, not firefighters or police who know nothing of the cave environment. I do it to give back.
If I was being rescued because I was making a stupid mistake, then I'd expect to be criticized for it just like I was when I caused an accident a couple of years ago. I was using a stupid, outdated technique which failed on my buddy Rick, allowing him to fall. When it was over, do you think I was criticized by people who rescue? You bet your A_s I was.
So, yes, since I'm not getting paid to do it, I personally think a little criticism, especially of explorers who put themselves into such a preventable situation, is warranted from time to time. They knew full well that they were exploring a cave with sub standard equipment. 2 weeks before this rescue, I pulled a 3/4' thick "tow chain" out of the same cave, presumably put there by the same crew, which was also tied with bailing twine to the bolt hanger. It had knots in it so they could climb back out.
In today's world of the internet, you can learn how to do anything if you are willing to read enough about it. This rescue was preventable and that's what I'm criticizing. Thousands go out caving every week around the world and only a small percentage of those who are properly equipped and trained ever run into a problem.