Cave Rescue Training

January 2, 2017 in General

Over the past months, a number of rescue volunteers from the Emergency Fire & Rescue Unit (EFRU) took the golden opportunity offered by the Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector and made valuable use of the funds awarded in relation to the 2016 Training Initiatives Scheme Priority 1.

One of the beneficiary volunteers who applied for this scheme participated in a five day intense Technical Cave Search and Rescue (CSR) training course organised in the majestic yet hostile caves within the region of Lisbon and Tagus Valley, Portugal.  The specialised training was delivered by the seasoned instructors from Escola Portuguesa de Salvamento (EPS), one of the five founder members within the European Association of Civil Protection Volunteer Teams (EVOLSAR).

The cave rescue course participants, constituting from rescue personnel from various organisations including Bombeiros Voluntários De Peniche, EPS SAR team, and Grupo de Intervenção de Proteção e Socorro, underwent in detail the numerous techniques exploited in these difficult and demanding conditions first in a training environment and later in various real life conditions.  Cave search and rescue is a technical speciality which does not only employ elements from firefighting, confined space rescue, rope rescue and mountaineering techniques, but also utilises its own special dynamic procedures and skills.  Such type of rescue manoeuvres from caves, tunnels or mines are slow and deliberate operations that require a high level of organised teamwork and good communication between the rescuers. The extreme conditions and environment within caves, including vertical drops, humidity, temperature, water, mud and restricted space, dictate every aspect of a cave rescue.

While Malta is not particularly notorious for caves, we have our fair share of caves, wells and underground shelters.  One must be adequately trained to deal with the unfortunate need for a search and rescue from one of these underground caverns, where a single mistake can jeopardise not only the life of the trapped casualty, but also that of the rescuers themselves.

Quoting a Spanish novelist in the 16th century … ‘To be prepared is half the victory’.

The EFRU is a committed organisation which believes in constant training, and thanks to its devoted voluntary members, is always prepared and ready to help out the constituted authorities in case of a national calamity.