Author Topic: Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19  (Read 1870 times)

Offline The Old Ruminator

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Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19
« on: May 13, 2020, 07:12:53 pm »

Offline The Old Ruminator

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Re: Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2020, 07:58:22 pm »
A similar message from The British Diving Safety Group.

  "The consensus of the meeting was that the infrastructure to safely support recreational and technical diving activities are still lacking and requires more time to re-establish itself. Contamination risks remain too high during the preparation for diving and could put undue pressure on businesses who must operate safely and within the law.

More importantly, should emergency support be necessary, this would place an unacceptably high burden on rescue services and medical treatment facilities at a time when they are already stretched. For instance if an asymptomatic diver should need rescuing by the RNLI, and one or a number of the crew then catch the coronavirus, the whole lifeboat station will have to be quarantined. "

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Re: Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2020, 08:00:33 pm »
Quote
Caves aren’t outside

Insert some kind of joke about CRoW

Offline The Old Ruminator

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Re: Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2020, 08:44:17 pm »
Quote
Caves aren’t outside

Insert some kind of joke about CRoW


Ooo. You cant mention that down here.

Online Rob

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Re: Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2020, 08:47:47 pm »
More to the point, there's a "caving code" down there?!?  :shrug:
The end is where we start....

Offline PeteHall

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Re: Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2020, 09:29:36 pm »
More to the point, there's a "caving code" down there?!?  :shrug:

The BCA has a "caving code" (link below) which says nothing about groups of 4:
https://british-caving.org.uk/wiki3/lib/exe/fetch.php?media=conservation_access:bca_caving_code.pdf

The slightly more comprehensive (and slightly better presented) "Minimal Impact Caving Guidelines" (link below) also talk about group size, but again no numbers are specified.
https://british-caving.org.uk/wiki3/lib/exe/fetch.php?media=conservation_access:micg.pdf 

Finally, I managed to find the MRO caving code from 1963. It is on page 718 at the following link, and recommends that it is not normally safe to cave in a group of less than four.  ;D
https://www.mcra.org.uk/wiki/lib/exe/fetch.php?media=articles:cave_rescue_on_mendip_-_alan_gray_nov_2019.pdf
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Offline Bob Mehew

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Re: Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2020, 10:38:05 pm »
Ah, the minimum number game.  Yes long ago it was a statement from those on high that 4 was the minimum appropriate party size.  But that was in the days of ladders and lifelines where you needed a reasonable sized team to tackle any cave with pitches.  SRT has changed that. 

It also used to be said that caving was a team activity where people within the team did rely on the others.  SRT has changed that. 

It was also the case that the typical cost of ladder and lifeline for a trip was only affordable by a club.  But SRT has changed that.

NCA was set up when clubs were still necessary.  BCA was set up when this approach still ruled though substantially undermined.  But in order to get BCA afloat, it had to be accepted albeit it with individual membership due to the pesky insurance problem. 

Perhaps some day the minimum number will be one.  I would suggest 2 strikes the compromise whilst mobile phones don't work underground (yet).

PS the notice is on the CSCC web site, not MRC as suggested in another post.

Offline Fjell

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Re: Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2020, 11:11:13 pm »
It’s not just pre-SRT, it’s pre-wetsuit. No self-respecting Mendip caver hasn’t freedived Swildons 2 and 3.

Offline mrodoc

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Re: Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2020, 11:18:04 pm »
Now   I thought the numbers game was that in the event of an incident one person could stay with the casualty and two could go out safely and call the rescue services.  Am willing to be corrected of course.

Offline PeteHall

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Re: Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2020, 11:27:05 pm »
Perhaps some day the minimum number will be one.  I would suggest 2 strikes the compromise whilst mobile phones don't work underground (yet).

Personally, I tend to do most of my caving solo, including long trips. I have justified it on the following grounds:
 - There is no-one to drop something on you (most frequent cause of near miss in my experience)
 - There is no-one to get stuck in front of you blocking the way out (yes, that's happened to me too, no names in case you read this Kev ;) )
 - You are much more aware of danger alone, there is no false sense of security in numbers.
 - There is never any pressure to do something you aren't comfortable with doing.
 - You don't have to wait for anyone at every obstacle, decreasing waiting time, cold and fatigue.
 - You can cave at your own pace.
 - You don't have to share your Mars bar.

All the above mean you are much less likely to have an accident alone, albeit an accident would have more serious consequences.

It's standard risk assessment, likelihood vs consequence...

Now   I thought the numbers game was that in the event of an incident one person could stay with the casualty and two could go out safely and call the rescue services.  Am willing to be corrected of course.
That is what it states in the 1963 guidelines  :smartass:
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Offline mikem

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Re: Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2020, 11:38:36 pm »
It may be copied on CSCC site, but was written by MCR.

& plenty of Mendip cavers don't like sumps...

Offline Fjell

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Re: Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19
« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2020, 07:46:57 am »
It may be copied on CSCC site, but was written by MCR.

& plenty of Mendip cavers don't like sumps...

As an 18 year-old I was led to believe it was a necessary beginners trip. Through the sumps and and then up that Pencil thing with the chain at the bottom. I didn’t want to do sump 4, it had worms in it, and that just didn’t seem quite right.

Offline The Old Ruminator

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Re: Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19
« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2020, 08:52:41 am »
Oh Dear perhaps this forum should not encourage solo digging reports. It would never do to be seen encouraging rule breakers. Yes I have  dived Swildons sumps two and three but only with a bottle. Most of my deep wreck diving was solo. As stated there is more control and concentration when you are alone. If the so-called minimum of four cavers is a rule would insurance be invalidated with three of you ? We regularly dig with two or three as four would just be in each others way. Same old game " Rules are for fools and the avoidance of the wise ". There is a tendency today to blanket rules on everything when it often does not apply. Please no more trip or dig reports here if less than four in the party. I might have to complain.

Offline mrodoc

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Re: Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19
« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2020, 09:33:47 am »
Perhaps some day the minimum number will be one.  I would suggest 2 strikes the compromise whilst mobile phones don't work underground (yet).

Personally, I tend to do most of my caving solo, including long trips. I have justified it on the following grounds:
 - There is no-one to drop something on you (most frequent cause of near miss in my experience)
 - There is no-one to get stuck in front of you blocking the way out (yes, that's happened to me too, no names in case you read this Kev ;) )
 - You are much more aware of danger alone, there is no false sense of security in numbers.
 - There is never any pressure to do something you aren't comfortable with doing.
 - You don't have to wait for anyone at every obstacle, decreasing waiting time, cold and fatigue.
 - You can cave at your own pace.
 - You don't have to share your Mars bar.

All the above mean you are much less likely to have an accident alone, albeit an accident would have more serious consequences.

It's standard risk assessment, likelihood vs consequence...

Now   I thought the numbers game was that in the event of an incident one person could stay with the casualty and two could go out safely and call the rescue services.  Am willing to be corrected of course.
That is what it states in the 1963 guidelines  :smartass:
For most of the above reasons I have found scuba diving on my own more relaxing. All the most serious episodes I have been involved in were when I was diving with other people. I was taught to dive that way way back in1965.

Offline PeteHall

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Re: Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19
« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2020, 10:06:13 am »
With a wetsuit and mask, Swildon's sump two and three are not a physical challenge and not uncomfortable, likewise sump 4, which while shorter, is much less appealing to look at. They are still a great psychological challenge though, that many very well respected Mendip cavers never overcome.

I have trained myself to overcome this (for many years water was my greatest fear in caving) and I now find these free-dives to be a very important part of my enjoyment of Swildon's. Just as you get closer to your surroundings by immersing yourself in the rock, you get closer still by immersing yourself in the water in the rock. This sense of "oneness with the cave" is very freeing and is best experienced alone, where there are not the distractions of other people. My first trip after lockdown will probably be a solo free-dive trip to Swildon's sump 9, after which, I will hopefully feel like a caver again  :)
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Online 2xw

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Re: Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19
« Reply #15 on: May 14, 2020, 11:41:46 am »
:+

Online Oceanrower

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Re: Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19
« Reply #16 on: May 14, 2020, 12:05:09 pm »
It may be copied on CSCC site, but was written by MCR.

& plenty of Mendip cavers don't like sumps...

As an 18 year-old I was led to believe it was a necessary beginners trip. Through the sumps and and then up that Pencil thing with the chain at the bottom. I didn’t want to do sump 4, it had worms in it, and that just didn’t seem quite right.

My first ever trip was the Short Round in reverse (In case I bottled the sump. Better on the way in than the way out!) On a Saturday and Eastwater on the Sunday.

It's a wonder I ever came back!

Offline The Old Ruminator

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Re: Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19
« Reply #17 on: May 14, 2020, 01:32:46 pm »
Back on course. The real query here is the advice given by the MRO that safe caving should not be in parties of less than four. That is a red flag to any solicitor in a court of law where an incident has occurred within say a party of three. Coroners Courts are cold sterile places concerned only with points of law often operated by legal folk who have no idea regarding the subject under review. Therefore they refer to expert bodies whom I assume the MRO would be one locally on Mendip. Can anyone here please have an answer to my question as I am certainly not qualified to answer it myself.

Offline mikem

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Re: Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19
« Reply #18 on: May 14, 2020, 01:41:29 pm »
That's almost certainly why the code no longer specifies numbers (& solicitors would be unlikely to pick up on it unless somebody posted it on a public forum :-\)

Offline PeteHall

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Re: Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19
« Reply #19 on: May 14, 2020, 02:46:29 pm »
The Statement from MRO has been published in various places online and circulated to (all?) local clubs, as is right for any such statement, otherwise why make it.

The question is really whether the MRO note relates to current guidance. It certainly doesn't reflect national guidance from the BCA or the recent statement from BCRC.

The only local guidance it reflects appears to be a few decades out of date. It would be useful if MRO were to clarify their statement in this regard. I have raised this with my club rep and await a response :)

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Offline mikem

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Re: Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19
« Reply #20 on: May 14, 2020, 03:30:44 pm »
I know, just pointing out that TOR posted it in first place!

It obviously refers to old guidance & only says "recommends", so don't think you need to worry about it (although I have mentioned it to the author):
https://british-caving.org.uk/wiki3/doku.php?id=conservation_access:cave_conservation_code
(Note, it is called just the caving code on website)

NCA was formed in 1968, so only local guidance was available before that, but pretty sure their original code also specified numbers, but can't find a copy.

EDIT - CSCC handbook for 1995 is even more direct : "No less than four in the party".
« Last Edit: May 14, 2020, 03:53:08 pm by mikem »

Offline crickleymal

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Re: Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19
« Reply #21 on: May 14, 2020, 04:30:23 pm »
It doesn't matter what the minimum number is. The problem is distancing given that caving is usually a group activity.
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Offline mikem

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Re: Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19
« Reply #22 on: May 14, 2020, 04:36:50 pm »
It does in a general sense, rather than strictly covid19 related, as it could invalidate BCA insurance for smaller groups.

Offline PeteHall

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Re: Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19
« Reply #23 on: May 14, 2020, 04:46:14 pm »
It doesn't matter what the minimum number is. The problem is distancing given that caving is usually a group activity.

For some, yes caving is usually a group activity. For others caving is usually solitary.

The two issues here are:
(1) whether a statement from a regional rescue organisation recommending minimum of four to a group will invalidate insurance for smaller groups in the case of an accident (now or future)
(2) given the government guidance that you can meet one other person, caving with more than two would be against government rules.

The two points taken together mean no caving, other than in a family/household group of four or more. So for pretty much everyone, no caving at all.

If the first statement is ignored as decades out of date, then one could feasibly go caving as a household group of less than 4 (much more likely), or alone (for those who are happy to do so), or as a group of 2 from different households as long as social distancing can be maintained (possible for a great number of caves I'm sure).
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Offline mikem

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Re: Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19
« Reply #24 on: May 14, 2020, 05:14:43 pm »
Social distancing is generally easy, not putting your hands in the same place as everyone else (other groups before you too) is more of a challenge - especially as cold, damp conditions are usually conducive to virus survival outside the body...

Offline Bob Mehew

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Re: Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19
« Reply #25 on: May 14, 2020, 05:39:50 pm »
The NCA's Minimal Impact Caving Code states "Keep your party to a small size - a minimum of 4 and maximum of 6. Specific requirements may apply in certain instances."  I vaguely recall an argument in NCA Council over this statement between C&A and Training Committees over maximum numbers.  However, the NCA Cave Conservation Handbook makes reference to party sizes of two for cave conservation reasons in some cases.  (Amusingly the example cited is located on Mendip.) 

The NCA's MICC was replaced by the BCA MICC which states "The party size should be appropriate to the vulnerability of the cave."

Please also note BCA's statement at https://british-caving.org.uk/wiki3/doku.php which does not specify party size, just it's take on the legal requirement. 

Offline The Old Ruminator

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Re: Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19
« Reply #26 on: May 14, 2020, 06:09:42 pm »
I was really trying to detach the minimum of four advice from anything to do with Covid-19.

Offline PeteHall

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Re: Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19
« Reply #27 on: May 14, 2020, 11:07:38 pm »
One point nobody seems to have questioned is the comment that most caves are closed.

I can't find a list. Does anyone know if there is one?
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Offline mikem

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Re: Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19
« Reply #28 on: May 15, 2020, 07:11:42 am »
Only from random posts covering swildons, Eastwater, st Cuthbert's, reservoir & fairy quarry caves (although I know climbers have been on the cliffs during lockdown). But majority are on farmland owned by those at high risk, so visits unlikely to endear you.

Offline The Old Ruminator

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Re: Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19
« Reply #29 on: May 15, 2020, 08:42:42 am »
I think that the FCQ management committee has been in touch with the climbers. Its not necessarily a good thing that nobody visits FCQ as a huge amount of fly-tipping has taken place at the old CSS cottage.

Offline andrewmc

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Re: Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19
« Reply #30 on: May 15, 2020, 08:56:55 am »
One point nobody seems to have questioned is the comment that most caves are closed.

I can't find a list. Does anyone know if there is one?

This is where the equivalent of the BMC's RAD (Regional Access Database) would be really useful...

Offline Jenny P

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Re: Mendip Cave Rescue Response to Covid-19
« Reply #31 on: May 15, 2020, 03:45:40 pm »
One point nobody seems to have questioned is the comment that most caves are closed.

I can't find a list. Does anyone know if there is one?

A list is in the process of being compiled as part of the Derbyshire Cave Registry website - each entry now also includes its current access situation with regards to cv-19.  DCA is also at the moment posting on UKcaving notes about which caves are closed at the request of their owners.

 

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