At approximately 6.00pm on Sunday 10th May, a Fermanagh representative of the Irish Cave Rescue Organisation (ICRO) received a telephone call stating that a Polish caver was trapped in a cave on East Cuilcagh.
The caver was one of a party of four Polish cavers resident in Dublin, who entered the cave on Sunday morning on a recreational cave trip expected to last a few hours.
Following notification to the Police Service of Northern Ireland, ICRO commenced an investigation of the situation, and instigated a standby by callout of its members nationwide.
The cave rescue team established that one male caver was trapped in a tight section of cave passage at the bottom of a 70m pothole, on East Cuilcagh, on the Fermanagh/Cavan border (near Gortalughany View Point).The three members of the caving group had exited the cave to raise the alarm.
Forty ICRO personnel from Fermanagh, Belfast, Clare, Dublin and Sligo were called out to participate in the cave rescue; twelve of the cave rescue personnel are Fermanagh residents. The cave rescue team comprised medical doctors, vertical caving and communication experts. They took in medical supplies, sleeping bags, tents, food and specialised communication equipment (as conventional radios do not work effectively underground).
Over a period of ten hours stretching through the night, ICRO personnel worked in confined and difficult cave passages to make the caver as comfortable as possible. Using specialised equipment the rescuers made the passage wider to facilitate the cavers exit. The uninjured caver was in good spirits and ICRO personnel hauled him up a number of vertical sections to the surface using ropes at approximately 6.00am on Monday 11th May.
ICRO was assisted by the Police Service for Northern Ireland Search and Rescue Team (PSNI).
The Irish Cave Rescue Organisation (ICRO) is a self help organisation made up of volunteer cavers specialising in cave rescue and who attend, manage and carry out rescues at the request of the PSNI and the Gardai, in their respective jurisdictions, north and south.
ICRO volunteers regularly train to evacuate people and animals from caves, and is funded by the Northern Ireland Mountain, Cave Cliff Co-ordinating Committee, through Sport Northern Ireland, and the Irish Coast Guard. This pot hole has been used in the past by ICRO for training exercises; this training, and supports from PSNI and funders undoubtedly contributed to the smooth running and success of the operation.