Safety at Coldwater Cave

Rescue training and practice has always been a primary consideration within the Coldwater Cave Project. Periodic rescue workshops and instructions in patient packaging and hauling and evacuation from the shaft entrance keeps project personnel prepared for any potential rescue situations. Doug Schmuecker, an Iowa firefighter who is experienced in all aspects of cave, vertical, and confined-space rescue, oversees the rescue logistics and preparedness of the project.

The Coldwater Cave Project has had an exemplary safety record during the 28 years of work in the cave and surrounding area. This can be attributed to the experience level of the project cavers, mentoring of new cavers within the project, and very careful risk analysis when it comes to exploration. A survey-as-you-go exploration ethic allows for more thoughtful observation of one's surroundings, allowing potential hazards to be identified that might be missed by cavers interested only in how far they might travel in the course of a trip.

photo by Mike Lace
Periodic rescue training acquaints local EMTs and cavers with the intricacies of in-cave and vertical patient transport. photo by Mike Lace

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