The Kentucky Caver Quarterly Proceedings of the
Bluegrass Grotto: the North Central Kentucky Area Chapter of the National Speleological Society
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 vol. 41. iss. 1, March 2006
To employ "the turtle" the litter is rested upon the back of volunteers who assume the hands & knees crawl position so commonplace among cavers and pre-toddlers.  Four or so standing volunteers flank the litter on either side, steadying it while relieving some of the burden from the backs of the crawlers, without unduly straining themselves.  In this remarkable congress the party proceeds as far as practicable—normally only as long as it takes to enable a position less sadomasochistic. 

Several times during the rescue, in order to protect Gregg from bumping or to maintain control of the Ferno, it was necessary to pass the Ferno over the prone figure of a generous volunteer.  My turn under the steamroller came at the end of the "turtle" tube where breakdown blocks require several short vertical moves, emerging into walking passage.  These are a piece of cake for even the negligibly agile, but with a litter containing a critically injured human being, it was another feat entirely.  Lying flat upon an accommodating slab of limestone, the Ferno was lifted onto my person then scooted across my mattressing body while I steadied the Ferno from beneath.  After dredging the pudding-thick mud of the tube floor, the bottom of the Ferno troweled the sludge upon me with a mason's thoroughness.  All of us who functioned as human Fernopads wore our body-length lacquer of mud as proud testament to selfless caverhood. 

Our second crisis came at the crawl passage that snakes around the nameless pit at the east end of Echo Junction.  (Why this enormous pit has no name is a puzzlement to me, for it is certainly formidable enough to deserve some cleaver appellation, and I've personally never known Lou Simpson to lack for imagination!)  Here is where Mike Summers earned his halo.  After a 10' packed mud slide-down, the passage cuts a tight 45° into a bellycrawl—this in itself cause


for pause with a 6½ -foot transport basket.  But to make matters worse, a limestone ledge about the size of a breadbox jutted into the crawl, right at the bend in the passage.  This normally would force ordinary humans into a flat-belly pinch, but for the Ferno, it was a definite Do No Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200. 

Fighting a sickening feeling of looming defeat, I scoured the treacherous pit for some way around the obstructed bellycrawl.  Without serious and time-consuming rigging, it was simply not possible.  While I scampered about fruitlessly, Mike Summers showed us that he was as resourceful a caver as he was a paramedic.  Lying in the crawlway, Mike bludgeoned away at the obstructing slab with only another rock as his hammer.  I would have thought the rock too thick to break off, especially given the reduced mobility in the passage; but with brawn and determination, Mike quickly reduced the outcropping to slivers and we were back in the rescue business.  All I know, if I'm ever trapped downunder (again)**, I want Mike Summers to be one of the first faces I see. 

Shortly after this impediment had been allayed, but while we were still negotiating the tortuous passageway around the pit, I noticed that John Young and Tom Crockett had joined the rescue party.  In my years of knowing Tom, we have never been underground together, though the almost legendary event in which Tom free-climbed Screaming Willy in cowboy boots has always enticed me to the prospect.  (For those who don't know the tale, Tom had been obliged to help rescue some stranded college students who had underrated the labyrinth of Grand Central Spaghetti and had brought no ascending gear as a bailout option.  The 56' pit entrance is best not climbed without belay by those

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