By Phillip Petersen ESM
One of the latest movies to hit the theatres is Sanctum. At the beginning of the movie, it states that the concept of the movie is based on a true event.
The true event was the rescue of a group of researchers trapped in a Nullarbor cave at Pannikan Plains, near Cocklebiddy Western Australia in 1989. After a flash flooding, the cave entrance became flooded and re-arranged rocks as big as a bus to form a blockage to the entrance/exit to the cave. The SES Cliff and Cave Rescue Team was called to respond. The team consisted of Bob Coops, Neil McCauly, Neil Brooks, Rod Ives and Jim Ridgwell. Eventually a path was found and established by Neil Brooks. After many hours each of the researchers was brought to the surface from the would be tomb.
After the statement at the beginning, the movie continues as a “extreme” cave exploration of the treacherous Esa-ala caves in New Guinea and I am assured by rescurer , Jim Ridgwell, it does not ressemble anything like the original rescue. However do hang on for a edge of your seat action for a packed 3D movie with a bunch of hyped up Americans. A cyclonic flooding and the cave soon sorts them out.
FESA does not support SES volunteers in cave rescue role or training these days. Apparently current emergency management policy says that DEC is responsible for caves followed by the Police is for search and rescue. Myself, I have a little trouble understanding where these organisations have the resources or skills for cave rescue. Especially as they constantly use SES volunteers to manage regular rescues at Karrajine Gorge in the Pilbara. Anyway, I am sure the current policies allow the FESA executive to sleep at night even if reality is slightly different.
Neil Brooks located at Exmouth SES Unit and Jim Ridgwell at Gosnells SES Unit are still both active SES volunteers.