Kansas City, MO, Firefighters Discuss Cave Rescue Challenges

July 10, 2024
Crews ran out of 1,200 feet of rope so they used ice packs and a thermal imaging camera.

Kansas City firefighters received a rather unique call Sunday -- to help people lost in an  abandoned mine shaft.

“The cave was pitch black. We were fortunate to have lights, ropes and that helped in finding them,” Fire Captain Chris Vandermillion told Fox4.  

The 30-year-old man and 22-year-old woman told firefighters they went inside the cave around 11 p.m. Saturday after the Kenny Chesney concert. 

They were unable to find their way out. But, just after 4 a.m., they found a spot with a cell signal to call 911. They had wandered far away from the entrance.

Vandermillion said he and his team ran out of 1,200 feet of rope so they used ice packs and a thermal imaging camera to help find their way out. 

They went “blind off the rope, and they probably went 300-500 feet using ice packs every 50-75 feet."

Firefighter Quentin Culver said they heard a faint sound that led them to the victims. When they advised they were OK, everyone heaved a sigh of relief. 

“They were excited and they were tired and they were ready to go home. They were lucky they got cell service otherwise who knows what would’ve happened,” Culver said. 

Vandermillion was proud of his team: “1,500 feet, we’re talking five football fields. And to get right to them in that amount of time and not being able to see, it’s pretty impressive.”

The operation took 30 minutes.

He also urges people to stay out of caves and mine shafts. When firefighters found the couple, their cell phone was down to seven percent.

About the Author

Susan Nicol | News Editor

Susan Nicol is the news editor for Firehouse.com. She is a life member and active with the Brunswick Volunteer Ambulance & Rescue Company, Oxford Fire Company and Brunswick Vol. Fire Co. Susie has been an EMT in Maryland since 1976. Susie is vice-president of the Frederick County Fire/Rescue Museum. She is on the executive committee of Frederick County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association. She also is part of the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS) Region II EMS Council. Susie is a board member of the American Trauma Society, Maryland Division. Prior to joining the Firehouse team, she was a staff writer for The Frederick News-Post, covering fire, law enforcement, court and legislative issues.