"Hazards" of Caving -- Caving gear, when well- maintained, rarely fails.
Indiana caves don't contain biting snakes or other animals, ceilings rarely "cave in,"
and it's not very easy to get lost. The dangers facing cavers are usually the cavers themselves.
They may kick rocks down on each other, lose their footing and fall, or use their gear
improperly. The most common cave rescue involves novices with little or no training; such people
often take along insufficient light and clothing, or fail to heed weather reports.
The problem with cave rescue is that the caver is often a long way into tight passages,
and the logistics of bringing aid and removing him without his assistance can be a challenge.
Also, Indiana caves are about 53°F year- 'round; if a caver is immobilized by injury, a
real danger of hypothermia exists.
Dealing with an Injury -- First, try to stabilize the victim. Avoid moving her unless
she is in water. Try to stop any bleeding by direct pressure, and elevate the legs if the victim
is in shock. Cover her with additional clothing or other materials to ward off hypothermia. Then
go get help.
Police, fire departments, and most other public servants are rarely trained or equipped to
deal with cave rescue. The National Cave
Rescue Commission is a volunteer communications network developed to coordinate cave rescue
resources throughout the United States. Most NCRC cavers do perform rescues, but not as
part of the NCRC; rather as members of their local rescue squads, civil defense units, or cave
If a rescue is required, dial the call-out number of 812-337-7050. This number
must be used for Indiana rescue call-out only!! Leave a number where you can be contacted,
and stay there for five minutes or so. A second choice is to call the Bloomington office
in the Indiana State Police, 812-332-4411. If you don't have ready access to these
numbers, or you don't get a prompt response, by all means call the local fire department or other
rescue groups; but please try the established routes first!
Caving Safely -- Most rescues could have been avoided if the cavers had followed some
- Each caver must wear a helmet at all times.
- Each caver must have a helmet-mounted light and two or more independent
- Cave in groups of no less than four people. If someone gets hurt, one person can
attend to the injured caver while the other two go for help.
- Wear appropriate clothing.
If you'll be wet for any period of time, wetsuit bottoms are almost mandatory.
- Use common sense. Don't enter a stream cave when rain is predicted. Don't drink or
use other intoxicants prior to caving.
- Tell someone where you're going and when you will be back, and post the cave rescue
call-out number nearby.
There is no substitute for caver training, and no single list of precautions can ensure a
safe caving trip. If you intend to go caving, please contact experienced cavers beforehand for
*The NCRC offers weekend training sessions for cave rescue throughout
the central region 4-5 times a year. Cavers are encouraged to attend these sessions.
For more information, contact Anmar Mirza at 812-339-1506.