ResCon24 – Update

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On the weekend of 7th – 9th June over 100 delegates from 13 underground rescue teams, 3 Mountain Rescue Teams as well as HM Coastguard and the Police descended on Nenthead in Cumbria. They attended a variety of talks, demonstrations and practical activities throughout the village both above and below ground.

Hosted by Cumbria Ore Mines Rescue Unit (COMRU) a lot of work had gone into making the weekend a success. Generous contributions by local businesses and organisations; Cubby Construction (who made a huge investment of time, money and resources both underground and on the surface), Alston Stone, Lyon Work and Rescue, plus Sellafield Ltd for volunteering their time to demonstrate two ‘Spot’ robot dogs and a LIDAR capable drone all made for an excellent experience for all the delegates. Not forgetting Cavendish Nuclear for providing sponsorship towards the event, Nenthead WI for feeding everyone, the Village Hall volunteers for running the bar and Nenthead mines for use of the site and their buildings.

Informal evening sessions took place in the Village Hall on the Friday with a talk by Peter Jackson on “Nent mining history”. On Saturday Paul Taylor of GCRG allowed delegates to experiment with Petzl Nest stretcher.

After the Saturday evening meal delegates were given a fascinating talk by Paul Allison (representing The Durand Group) on “Extreme archaeology – Digging into the WW1 fighting tunnels of Northern France”. Recounting his exploits in accessing these tunnels in the chalk ridges around Vimy, France to provide access for historians and archaeologists.

Training Sessions

The training sessions were effectively split into two parts: Underground on Saturday and surface sessions on Sunday.

Saturday Sessions/Scenarios

Medical: crush and suspension injury treatment
Delegates were presented with a live casualty pinned face-down by a large boulder on their leg, significant bleeding plus an arm fracture. Adjacent deads (waste rock stacked up by the miners) were unstable and starting to move. So, how to treat the casualty and remove them to a place of safety.

Underground casualty base construction/ Hypothermia protocols
Another medical scenario which took place under a pre-rigged shelter, with an initial talk on the mechanisms that lead to hypothermia, the physical effects of hypothermia, the physiology of hypothermia, the management requirements such as vapour barrier and careful handling to reduce risk of cardiac arrest with reference to Swiss staging scale. A volunteer casualty was then suitable treated and packaged to re-warm them and ready them for evacuation.

Stretcher loading and vertical haul
The objectives were to discuss the use of a vacuum mattress underground, patient tie in options for a vertical lift and to carry out a vertical lift using a stretcher. This created a good discussion on the forces involved on the haul system, different approaches and equipment used to deal with these. A 3:1 haul system was used but both 5:1 and 9:1 systems were discussed.

Releasable deviations and horizontal stretcher lift
This scenario explored rigging techniques in situations where a casualty has to be hauled up a pitch or shaft that has an unstable top. The use of releasable deviations enabled the stretcher to be moved without touching the edge of the shaft/pitch to an area of safety allowing team members to be well away from the unstable area and thus reducing the risk to the casualty.

Digging and shoring through collapses
A demonstration of a well-engineered dig through loose fill such as might be found where a shaft or ore hopper fill has run into a passage blocking the route to trapped explorers.

Sunday Sessions

Use of ground anchors (stakes and vehicles) with a Larkin frame

Medical: Dealing with catastrophic bleeding, Analgesia update
A ‘hands-on’ or rather ‘hands-in’ workshop on how to stop catastrophic bleeding by applying pressure and a tourniquet.

Rock splitting
This was a demonstration on splitting rock using plug and feathers as well as pyrotechnics. The first demonstration was using the plug and feathers to show how this simple technique can be used to great effect when breaking down large rocks. The second demonstration used pyrotec gas generating cartridges, these split the rock using rapid gas expansion and showed how effortlessly large rock could be split on mass. However, the latter does require longer holes to be drilled.

ICT Sessions
A series of short presentations covering several ‘digital’ topics: Equipment inspection log, Electronic T-card system, DMR (Digital Mobile Radio), MRMap (by Dave Binks the creator), SARCALL and how to make more use of the Incident log and PhoneFind, Zello and DMR-Zello Gateway (push to talk comms via GSM and/or WIFI that does not require any radio infrastructure and can work on team members mobile, by Adrian Verity of AVIT Research Ltd).

The ICT session was rounded off by the arrival of two Boston Dynamics ‘Spot’ dogs, operated by volunteers from Sellafield Ltd.


Thanks to everyone involved in the organisation of ResCon24 for an amazing weekend.

On to the next one:

Rescon25 is being hosted by the Cave Rescue Organisation (CRO) as part of their 90th anniversary celebrations. The event will be centred in Settle, in the Yorkshire Dales. It is currently pencilled in for Friday 13th to Sunday 15th June, 2025.