A MAN who spent hours trapped hanging off a ledge underground in an abandoned mine was saved by skilled rescuers. 

Two explorers had entered the mine shaft, part of the Phoenix United workings near Minions on Bodmin Moor, at around 11am last Sunday (February 4). 

Their friend called for help when they had not reappeared by nightfall, said the East Cornwall Search and Rescue (ECSR) team. 

“Initial reports suggested that two people were in the mine with one trapped by being stuck in suspension on the ropes after going into the mine that morning. There was an initial suggestion that they were in and out of consciousness,” said ECSR. 

“The alarm was raised by a friend who went to the shaft when the explorers hadn’t made it to the surface at the end of their expected trip plan.” 

In challenging weather conditions, and with a tricky rescue to perform, the Devon Cave Rescue Organisation and the South West Ambulance Service Trust Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) were called to assist with the incident. 

“On our arrival we established that the shaft was deep into the moor,” said ECSR. 

“One casualty was now out, however the friend had managed to enter the shaft himself and provide immediate assistance to the remaining explorer who was cold, exhausted and complaining of severe leg pain due to being held in suspension for a significant amount of time. 

“This left one casualty and one member of public around 45ft down the mine shaft on the edge of a ledge with a significant drop to the side of him. We set about setting up a system to check air monitoring and allow rapid access for a HART Paramedic to stabilise the casualty - providing insulation and administering pain relief.” 

A member of the Devon Cave Rescue team was sent in to assist the paramedic, and used a cave rescue stretcher to bring the friend back to the surface. 

The casualty was hauled out of the mine shaft just before 1am, said the ECSR spokesperson. 

“Our stretcher party were waiting and the man then had a long carry across moorland in wild and wet conditions to the waiting ambulance, before being admitted to Derriford Hospital with suspension trauma. 

“It was a long, cold, wet night for our team of volunteers but one with a good outcome, and we wish the explorers a swift and full recovery. 

“We returned to base and sorted the equipment ready for the next call out, finally standing down at 3am.” 

East Cornwall Search and Rescue say that the two adventurers did the right thing in making sure that a friend above ground knew details of their trip and their expected return time. 

“Mine exploring has various hazards, from poor air quality through to unstable floors, so never explore alone and ensure it’s always within your skill level and ability.” 

The East Cornwall Search and Rescue team say that call outs to mines are rare – but something that they regularly train for. 

“Our last mine rescue was last year near Par, but we regularly use rope rescue techniques to assist with rescues from places like Golitha Falls.” 

As a charity which is 100% run by volunteers, ECSR relies on public support to keep its service operational. 

The team provides an inland search and rescue service for lost, missing and injured people across East Cornwall - and further afield when required. 

ECSR has two big projects on the horizon: one, to replace one of its incident response vehicles, and the other to refurbish the rescue centre at Bodmin. 

Any offers of help or donations are always welcome, say the team – to find out more visit www.eastcornwallsrt.org.uk.