BCRC visits Norway

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June 2023

After seeing the new Casbags and jackets at the European Cave Rescue Association meeting in 2022, the Norwegian Cave Rescue Group asked if we could make some for them. This was accompanied by an invitation to visit Norway and undertake some joint training. This seemed an offer too good to refuse, so 4 of us headed over in early June, taking the bags.

The hospitality was outstanding, and we took in a surprisingly large amount of the country. Starting in Oslo, where many of the cavers are based, we undertook some surface training on a very warm weekend. We then flew up to the principal caving area, near Bodo, north of the Arctic Circle. Their main Cave Rescue base is in the military part of Bodo Airport, and we were given a tour, including seeing their brand new rescue helicopters, which provide SAR and medical transfer services for the region.

We then participated in an underground practice using the new bags, as well as some tourist caving trips. The bags and jackets performed excellently, being thoroughly tested in a cave with sheet ice throughout the entrance and a meltwater streamway. Norwegian caves have an ambient temperature of 4 to 8oC, so prompt management of hypothermia is an essential part of cave rescue.

As well as an opportunity for some stunning sightseeing and caving, this trip was a great way of fostering closer relations with the Norwegian team, who are somewhat short on numbers, but not lacking in significant caves. The slow train back to Oslo, complete with stunning views of fiords, snowcapped mountains, and the actual Arctic Circle was also one to remember.

Brendan Sloan, BCRC Medical Officer