Brave medics win awards for saving man’s life in cave rescue

Three of the medics, (from left) Anna Challis, Jim Adler and Jason Buckle, with their awards.
Three of the medics, (from left) Anna Challis, Jim Adler and Jason Buckle, with their awards.

Five medics, including two from Mansfield and one from Rainworth, have won awards after carrying out a nine-hour rescue operation to save the life of a climber injured in a cave.

The quintet, from the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS), swung into action when the man was hit on the head by falling rocks and was left stranded at Speedwell Cavern in Castleton, Derbyshire for six hours.

They had to go in by boat and then wade though waist-high, freezing-cold water for 40 minutes, carrying medical kit above their heads. To extricate the man from the caves, they also had to climb 800 feet, organise an abseil and crawl through confined spaces.

Now the specialist crew comprising Mansfield duo Anna Challis and Craig Swinton, Rainworth woman Nicola Baxter, Worksop man Jason Buckle and Jim Adler, of Chesterfield, have been presented with Chief Commendations for providing ‘outstanding service’ to EMAS.

Anna, Craig, Nicola and Jason are all part of EMAS’s Hazardous Area Response Team, known as HART, which regularly trains for such incidents, while Jim works for Derbyshire Cave Rescue but is also a technician for EMAS.

Jim, who was called to the caves at 4.30 pm on Saturday, October 22 last year, said: “When we reached the man, he was huddled in a blizzard shelter and was cold, frightened and in pain.

“He was secured on a stretcher and given pain relief, and then we had to go back with him the way we came, lowering him 250 feet down the cavern.

“It was a job well done, but it was the most challenging cave-rescue we have ever conducted.”

Craig explained that it took an hour to get from the surface to the man before they could even start helping him out of the cave. “He had been there for six hours, and didn’t know where he was,” Craig said. “It was difficult to assess him.”

The cave rescue was the first Jason had been involved with. He said: “It was a real challenge. We were wading through muddy water, carrying the kit above our heads, and we had to rely on our head-torches for light. It was hard work. The award has pride of place on my mantelpiece.”

The climber was taken to hospital in Sheffield for treatment and later recovered.