Wednesday, January 25, 2012

MCFRS Technical Rescue Specialists Assist in Rescue of a Man Trapped in Cave

By: Assistant Chief Scott Goldstein

Just after 6:45pm last night, Montgomery County Fire Rescue was contacted by the Maryland Emergency Management Agency and requested to assist Washington County Fire Rescue with a spelunker trapped in a cave in the Clearpsring section of western Washington County. The spelunker was amongst a group of 4 that were exploring the cave before he got trapped about 250 feet from the entrance point. The cave, know as Schtrumph's Cave, consists of some very narrow passages roughly 18" wide with cork screws and narrow long passages.

MCFRS Technical Rescue Specialists Assist in Rescue of a Man Trapped in Cave
Click on photo above to go to Flickr Site w/more photos
Personnel from Washington County Fire Rescue had established communications with the victim and provided the victims companions with rescue tools, two-way communications equipment, and atmospheric monitoring equipment with which they began to chip away at the rock structures entrapping him.

As technical rescue specialists from Frederick and Montgomery County arrived to assist, an action plan was developed that supported rescuers entering the cave to make access to the victim.

As the rescuers prepared to enter - the associates with the victim radioed that he was free and would begin to work out to the cave entrance. Two rescuers from Montgomery County made entry and met the victim about 100 feet below the entrance. They assessed the patients’ medical condition and created an improvised harness and utilized a mechanical system to assist the victim up several vertical elements within the cave.

The victim exited the cave at roughly 10:15pm and just less than 5 hours since the first 9-1-1 call was made. The victim was transported to R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore for treatment and assessment.

Fire Rescue units gathered equipment and returned to service.  Please click on photo above to go to our set on Flickr.  Photos Courtesy of MCFRS


Anonymous said...

By "associates with the victim," are you referring to the volunteer cavers who, mostly unattributed in your story, helped rescue the patient? Or to the patient's three caving companions?

If MCFR didn't proceed more than 100 feet inside the cave, who took the photos of the patient which you have posted? The photographer deserves credit.

Mike said...

EXCELLENT WORK! note to author: most rescue organizations refer to him as the 'patient' not the 'victim'.

Anonymous said...

What about the cavers who actually accessed the patient, and operated the air chisel to get him out?

billd said...


To answer some of the comments:

3 of the associates were parts of the victim’s original party and 2 others arrived part way through the incident. First responders provided the tools/equipment and guidance. Team effort by all who were there.

Yes – the 4 pictures of him in the cave are from the victim’s associates /co-cavers. If any of you have the names please pass along and we can credit individually.

@Mike – victim and/or patient are widely used terms by fire and rescue agencies. It varies and at the end of the day both would be considered accurate for use for this.