A member of the British Cave Rescue Council MCRO - a member of the British Cave Rescue Council

Emmer Green Practice, 21st November 2021


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Joint Team Cave Rescue Practice

On Saturday 20th November team members made their way down to Reading and the 89th Reading (Milestone Wood) Scout Group HQ in Emmer Green for an excellent informal curry dinner cooked by the Scouts. This was followed by a social event with some very interesting talks. Including one on the discovery of a mystery body deep inside Verëvkina (Veryovkina) cave (the deepest cave measured thus far in the world at 2,212 metres (7,257 feet) deep) and the method employed to bring it to the surface.


The impressive Scout site features an activity centre, camping ground (which we made use of), as well as an up-to-date building with two Scout Halls. Most importantly the site also features a Chalk Mine!


Entrance to the Scout 'hut'

Morning campers

Above: The 89th Reading Scout Group HQ and camp ground (Pictures: Kelvin Lake, MCRO)

Sunday 'breakfast'

Hot porridge

Above: MCRO team members having Sunday breakfast . . . hot pot porridge! (Pictures: Kelvin Lake, MCRO)

Sunday 21st

On Sunday the chalk mine was the scene of a joint cave rescue exercise for the South East CRO, Gloucestershire Cave Rescue Group (GCRG), and MCRO. Over 60 cavers (including 9 MCRO team members) from the 3 teams took part.


The 89th Scout group mine team was also on hand to support the exercise and provide the ‘casualties’.


Over the years Paul Taylor and others from GCRG have helped the scouts reopen the mine. This includes making a secure shaft top with a 20m fixed metal ladder down to the workings, which proved very useful during the exercise.


For the first part of the exercise rapid survey teams were sent underground to quickly ‘map’ the workings and report back to Control. The assembled cavers were then allocated into search and First Aid parties and started deploying underground.


The mine entrance

Mapping team

Shaft control

Surface control

Above: Views of the shaft top and surface control. (Pictures: Kelvin Lake)


Underground Search Phase

The search parties were tasked to look for two, or possibly three missing persons. A teenager ‘Boris’ (aged 16), his friend ‘Priti’ (15) and possibly ‘Dominic’ (although it was not certain that he had gone underground with the others). It was reported that the trio regularly went underground together and had been ‘digging’ in the area to find an alternative way into the Chalk mine.


Armed with the new surveys the search teams set off to their designated areas. As chalk mines go, Emmer Green was quite extensive - larger than the normal ‘Deneholes’ found in the South East. It also seemed to have had various uses once mining stopped. Evidence of document storage was found, with papers dating from the early 1930s; and 1940s graffiti from when the mine was used as an air raid shelter.


As the first search team was descending, a ‘distraught’ parent suddenly appeared at the shaft top demanding to go down the shaft and forcing his way to the front. Team members had to calm him down and he was eventually lead away to the Scout Hall where Control was based. Robin Kent (Chairman of the 89th Scouts) who played the part of the ‘distraught’ parent was very convincing - even fooling some of his own colleagues!


Underground a Comms base was set-up with a CaveLink unit to allow communication to surface and control. The two casualties (Boris and Priti) were fairly quickly found. It turned out that ‘Dominic’ hadn’t gone underground as he was at the opticians.


Boris was found to have a broken leg and needed stretcher evacuation. While Priti was found nearby having fallen down a bank when her light went out. She had a suspected broken wrist/arm. She was also very cold and shivering and was quickly moved to a safer spot for rewarming with the new electrically heated BCRC Jacket and survival bag.


Underground comms base

Re-warming the first casualty

A CaveLink unit was set-up at the shaft bottom for comms. (Picture: Graham Smith)
Pritti was first re-warmed with the new heated jacket and survival bag before evacuating. (Picture: Kelvin Lake)


Putting Boris into the stretcher Checking on the casualty

Boris was packaged into the GCRG stretcher with First Aiders monitoring his condition. (Picture: Kelvin Lake)


The stretcher carry ...

The stretcher carry to the shaft.

The stretcher was then carried to the shaft for hauling to surface. (Picture: Bartek Biela)


Boris was kept comfortable until the GCRG stretcher arrived then he was carefully moved into the stretcher before he was carried to the shaft bottom. As this was only a practice, for safety reasons the live casualty was swapped for a collection of tackle bags for the shaft haul to surface.


Stretcher haul Near the surface

The stretcher was then hauled up the shaft by the surface team.



A very useful exercise in a different location, for most of those involved, which gave members of the 3 rescue teams chance to work together and pick up some useful tips. Thanks to Paul Taylor (GCRG) and the organisers for arranging such an enjoyable and educational event.


Thank you to 89th Reading Scouts (Milestone Wood) for their hospitality and excellent curry on the Saturday night and for allowing us the use of their mine.


Members of the 3 teams after the practice.

Members of the 3 rescue teams, after the practice (Picture: Paul Taylor, GCRG)