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Instructor Describes Rescue Effort To Free Hopkins Student Stuck In A Washington Co. Cave

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– A dramatic rescue inside a Western Maryland cave. A Johns Hopkins student is saved by classmates after getting stuck while hiking.

Mike Schuh has the exclusive interview with one of the people inside the cave.

Callers to 911 are not usually this calm.

911 Caller: “One of our members is stuck in the cave.”

The caller, a Hopkins student, is following pre-planned emergency training.

911 Caller: “Can you please send someone to help?”

Help with this: The torso of a 20-year-old Hopkins student was pinned between two rocks. The cave runs 600 feet or more. The student’s knee was stuck 200 feet from the entrance in an area called the corkscrew.

“My name is Matt Hardy. I run the Hopkins Outdoor Program and I was involved in the rescue the other night,” he said.

Hardy trained the three students with him in wilderness rescue. So when the professional firefighters came to the conclusion:

“This was way over our level of expertise,” said Chief Mike Reid of the Clear Spring Fire Department.

… it was up to Hardy, the other two Hopkins students and a good Samaritan caver who heard about the rescue.

“We knew as we were working in there and as the time had gone on, that we hadn’t had any professional rescuers end up in the room with us,” Hardy, of the Johns Hopkins Department of Athletics and Recreation, said. “We were beginning to get the picture that we really needed to make this [the rescue] happen on our own.”

Using fire department tools, two hours of chiseling removed just an inch of rock. It was enough though to free the student.

Rather than be embarrassed about the rescue, they’re focused on what went right when things went wrong a long way underground.

“There is risk in what we do– there is risk in kayaking or canoeing or anything like that,” Hardy said. “But we work very hard as a program to give the students the training that they need to be able to respond to situations.”

Theirs was a scouting trip to see if this cave would be good for a larger group.

Schuh: “Are you going back in that cave?”
Hardy: “Maybe not that particular cave with the program, but we’ll probably look at other caves.”

All of the Hopkins students involved in that incident graduated from the university’s Wilderness Emergency Rescue course. It’s 10 days of study, and once a year, it’s open to the public.

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