Jackson County first responders share caving safety tips

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JACKSON COUNTY, Ala. - According to Alabama Travel, Jackson County has 3,536 charted caves.

“Jackson County is visited by a lot of people from all over the country and even outside the country. Pretty much any given day, you can find somebody in a cave in Jackson County and they come from all over,” said Scottsboro Jackson County Rescue Squad Captain Eddie Tigue.

Sometimes those caving trips can turn dangerous.

The Scottsboro Jackson County Rescue Squad is one crew that has special training to help in cave rescues and recoveries.

Tigue told WHNT News 19 Monday afternoon that they will do six to eight cave rescues a year. He said it takes anywhere from 12 to 60 rescuers each time.

“It’s hard to believe how much manpower it takes within the cave to move someone from point A to point B. It’s pretty rough, it’s rocky, there are some areas where you have to low crawl to get through, down on your hands and knees, so once you get someone packaged up in a litter, it takes a while to get those folks out. It takes a lot of people to do that,” said Tigue.

Aside from the personal gear they wear during these cave rescue and recoveries, members of the Scottsboro Jackson County Rescue Squad have an arsenal of other helpful equipment including harnesses, ropes, helmets, and more.

Tigue said two big things are vital when it comes to caving: using equipment properly and knowing personal limitations.

“Two of the accidents we’ve had this year have been equipment-related which is rare. So, you can’t hardly stress the importance of having good equipment, knowing how to use it, using it properly, keeping it maintained. And you have to be able to notice yourself when you get tired. If you’ve climbed two or three times already that day, that third or fourth may be taxing a little more than you think it is,” added Tigue.

Tigue said savers and rescuers should also utilize multiple light sources, so they can see where they are going.

The Scottsboro Jackson County Rescue Squad trains with the Huntsville Cave Rescue group.

“They put on some rope classes and caving classes throughout the year. It’s a great resource for us to be able to use. They’re very good instructors, they teach a very good class and then we work with them on calls, too so we get to know them better. It makes for a better working relationship all the way around,” added Tigue.

They also train with the Chattanooga Hamilton County Rescue Service.

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