Small Party Assisted Rescue Seminar - Flagstaff

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Flagstaff, AZ

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A technical seminar presented by the Southwestern Region of the NATIONAL CAVE RESCUE COMMISSION with assistance from Bat Conservation International

Flagstaff, Arizona, April 20-23, 2017

About the Seminar

The NCRC’s Small Party Assisted Rescue (SPAR) seminar is an intensive three-day introduction to cave rescue techniques that can be performed by a party of six or less persons, using minimal gear normally carried on caving trips. This course teaches students how to handle most problems that arise while caving, including basic medical skills, moving patients through obstacles, helping persons who are stuck on rope, building and operating haul and lower systems, and how to prepare for and prevent problems with limited equipment and personnel. Students will be expected to study some material in advance so that the classroom sessions reinforce and elaborate on existing information. Skills will then be practiced on cliff faces and in caves. The course will be demanding with long days, but will provide participants with valuable skills that can be used to help themselves and others when they are needed most.


For safety and class efficiency, all students will be required to demonstrate basic vertical skills before taking this course. Required skills, including knots and single rope techniques are described here: http://caves.org/commission/ncrc/national/NCRC_Student_Area/L1_EntryPrepPkg_HO_v140308.pdf.

Students should contact a local NCRC instructor to check off on these skills prior to the class. Those not completing the entry test prior to the seminar may do so Thursday evening between 6 and 9pm. Any students not checked off by then will not be allowed to participate in this seminar.

All participants must be NSS members, as the NCRC is part of the NSS. You will need your NSS number to register. If you are not an NSS member, you can become one at: http://caves.org/.


Cost: $150, includes lodging and all meals from Thursday evening to Sunday lunch. To register, go to http://spar-flagstaff.eventbrite.com.

Class size is limited to the first 16 registrants, so register early.

Refunds are not available. You may find a substitute to take your place in the class if you're not able to attend, as long as that person meets all the prerequisites.


Each day of the seminar will begin at 8:00 a.m (MST). Check-ins are Thursday evening from 6-9 pm. Day 1 (Friday) will begin in the house at 8:00 a.m. with hands-on classroom sessions. We will then proceed to do ropework all afternoon and into the early evening. We will plan on ending about 7:00 p.m., with optional attendance for lectures and demonstrations later in the evening. Day 2 (Saturday) will begin at 8:00 a.m. at the house, and we will carpool to the day's site for cliff/cave sessions. These cliff/cave sessions will build on the skills learned on Day 1. We will plan on ending about 7:00 p.m., with optional attendance for lectures and demonstrations later in the evening. Day 3 (Sunday) will begin at 8:00 a.m. at the house, and we will carpool to the day's site for cliff/cave sessions and will likely end around 4:00 p.m. Day 3 activities will challenge the students to apply what they've learned over the past two days, using problem-solving to decide on what techniques should be used. Students should be prepared each day for classroom, cliff, and cave activities. *The schedule is subject to change at the instructors’ discretion. A digital handbook containing much of the course material will be sent out to students approximately six weeks before the course starts. Students will be able to retain more from the course if they read and practice some of the material in the handbook ahead of the class.

Accommodations & Directions

Lodging is included in the seminar. We will be taking an expedition-caving style approach to this course. We have rented a house that we will all stay at (address will be shared upon registration). The house is in Flagstaff, Arizona. The cave/cliff sites are located about 45 minute drive from the house.

Classroom sessions will be held indoors, but the majority of time will be spent outside. Be prepared for any type of weather.

Please bring at least two sets of cave clothes and footwear, as we will have limited White-nose Syndrome decontamination sites available. All gear brought to the seminar needs to be decontaminated according to the latest protocols: https://www.whitenosesyndrome.org/topics/decontamination

Required Equipment for All Participants

1. HELMET. A caving or climbing helmet is preferred. Construction-type or other helmets must have a 3 or 4-point chinstrap.

2. LIGHTS. Three dependable, independent sources of light. At least 2 must be helmet mountable.


4. GLOVES. Leather or leather-palmed work gloves.

5. BOOTS. Sturdy, lug-soled boots with good support. NO tennis shoes!

6. FOOD. Quick energy, ready to eat (trail mix, candy bars, cheese, etc.).

7. WATER. 2 liters minimum.

8. SMALL PACK. Rugged enough for the cave environment.

9. FOUR CARABINERS. Four extra carabiners that are not part of your SRT gear.


* Sewn seat harness

* an ascending system that includes:

* at least two gripping points of attachment above the waist

* mechanical ascender attached to the seat harness that can be manipulated with one hand

* a tether attached to the seat harness with a carabiner (non-lock OK) on the free end, independent of an ascender

* approved descent devices include standard rack, 4-bar micro-rack with hyperbar, bobbin with safety carabiner, or Rescue Eight with ears. Contact lead instructor about any other devices you want to have considered.

11. WEBBING. Two 20-foot sections of 1-inch webbing.

12. EXTRA LARGE GARBAGE BAGS. Two. Bonus if you bring tea candles and matches/lighter.

13. PEE BOTTLE. You might or might not need this. But it's better to be prepared.

12. OTHER. Any pulleys, prusiks, or small rescue gear that you normally carry in your cave pack.

About the NCRC

The National Cave Rescue Commission is an internal organization of the National Speleological Society. It serves as the society’s representative on issues of cave rescue training and operations. By design, the NCRC is not an operating cave rescue team. Rather, its mission is to provide training and development opportunities for persons and organizations engaged in cave rescue activities.


For questions, contact Gretchen Baker, c_g_baker@yahoo.com.

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