Man trapped in Welsh cave for 54 hours joins rescue team who rescued him

A man who was trapped for 54 hours in a Welsh cave and thought he ‘may never get out’ has said he wanted to give something back by volunteering for the rescue team that rescued him.

George Linnane broke his leg, jaw and ribs in a fall after caving with a group at Ogof Ffynnon Ddu in the Brecon Beacons last year.

It took around 300 volunteers and one of the longest cave rescues in UK history to rescue the 38-year-old, and he told BBC News he felt ‘lucky to to be alive”.

Despite this, the Bristol engineer said caving is part of who he is and he wants to get back underground as soon as possible.

He also opted to sign up to volunteer with the South and Mid Wales Caves Rescue Team, which coordinated the operation to save him, saying it was the ‘right thing to do. To do”.

rescue mission in the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu cave system near Penwyllt, Powys in the Brecon Beacons (Ben Birchall/PA)” height=”2667″ width=”4000″ srcset=”https://static.independent.co.uk/2022/01/25/09/1cd901b71798ede20bfe3d71853d5f4fY29udGVudHNlYXJjaGFwaSwxNjQzMTg3Mzkx-2.63613893.jpg?width=320&auto=webp&quality=75&crop=4000:2667,smart 320w, https://static.independent.co.uk/2022/01/25/09/1cd901b71798ede20bfe3d71853d5f4fY29udGVudHNlYXJjaGFwaSwxNjQzMTg3Mzkx-2.63613893.jpg?width=640&auto=webp&quality=75&crop=4000:2667,smart 640w” layout=”responsive” i-amphtml-layout=”responsive”>

The rescue mission in the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu cave system near Penwyllt, Powys in the Brecon Beacons (Ben Birchall/PA)

(PA wire)

Reliving his terrifying ordeal, Mr Linnane described leaving on the morning of November 6 with a small group in the deep cave system near Penwyllt.

What was supposed to be a six-hour excursion turned into an epic nightmare after an “instant” fall.

When Mr Linnane then woke up, he found he was injured and could not move. In fact, his injuries were life-threatening.

Along with his more obvious fractures, he suffered a dislocated collarbone, a lacerated spleen, a collapsed lung and a broken scaphoid in his wrist.

Mr Linnane said: ‘I was screaming and screaming in pain at the time. It was mean.

While one friend went to sound the alarm, another stayed and talked to him for hours to keep him awake.

The rescue team carrying Mr Linnane on a stretcher through a cave (South & Mid Wales Cave Rescue Team)

(PA Media)

“I kept toggling between two states – there was, ‘I’m going to fight this and survive,’ which became, ‘I really don’t care,'” he said.

“It was when those advanced first responders arrived, from then on I always felt I had a chance. But initially I wasn’t sure I would make it.”

The first part of the mission was to pull him through the tightest passages to bring him to a larger area where he could be placed in a tent to keep him warm.

Rescue volunteers came to his aid from across the country and Mr Linnane said he remembered seeing familiar faces from the Forest of Dean Mendips and Yorkshire.

Tied to a stretcher, Mr Linnane was pulled out of the cave with rescuers forming a line and leading him through.

The process lasted more than two days, with the operation having to stop regularly to treat the injured or change teams.

Mr Linnane joined the rescue team that rescued him (South & Mid Wales Cave Rescue Team)

(PA wire)

The caver said he felt an “overwhelming sense of relief” when they finally arrived at the exit.

He emerged in the darkness of the third night, with hundreds of cavers on site and members of the press, and was rushed down the hill to a waiting ambulance which took him to the hospital.

Now he says he is grateful for the “close bond between cavers” and wants to give back by becoming a lifeguard himself.

“Caving is a very safe sport, in general, for people who know what they are doing. It’s as safe as crossing a road,” he said.

“But things happen from time to time. And when they do, there’s only one team of people, one type of person that’s going to get you out of there.

He added: “I am a caver and I am a diver. It’s what I do and what makes me happy. And I know that even if something bad happened to me, the chances of it happening again are very, very small.

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