“As you can see I’m up, I’m alert and talking, but I’m not healed on the inside yet,” American caver Mark Dickey said in a video
An American man who became ill in the depths of a Turkish cave and this week said he will "need a lot of help" is set to be rescued in the next few days.
Experienced caver Mark Dickey had set out on an expedition into the Morca cave in Turkey’s Taurus Mountains, with the intention of mapping out a new passage of the cave. However, he fell ill last weekend while at a depth of about 3,675 feet due and was brought to a base camp at 3,412 feet, per CNN.
According to European Cave Rescue Association (ECRA) news release, the ECRA received a call last Saturday detailing that an individual had fallen ill in the cave and had "severe gastric pain." They said that Dickey's team members had asked for advice on medication, as they hoped he would be able to leave the cave by himself, but by Sunday the "rising destabilization of the circulation of the patient" meant that assistance was required.
Doctors at the cave base camp said that it was “not possible for him to climb out on his own,” and it would take 15 hours in ideal conditions to get from the base camp back to the entrance of the cave due to “narrow winding passages and several rappels,” per posts on the Turkish Caving Federation's account on Twitter (formerly known as X) on Tuesday.
The ECRA release detailed that as well as Turkish organizations including the Turkish Cave Rescue Service, between Sunday and Wednesday rescue teams from the Hungarian Cave Rescue Service and Bulgarian Cave Rescue had arrived on the scene, with Italian, Croatian and Polish teams detailed on Wednesday as being "on their way."
A Friday report from the Washington Post said that around 200 caving experts have flown in to help Dickey, 40, in his ascent back to the surface. According to NBC News, the added assistance means the American caver is likely to be rescued on Friday or soon after.
“With this good news, with doctors saying you can take him out now, slowly, tomorrow or the next day at the latest, we will start his rescue,” Recep Şalcı, head of search and rescue for Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority told NBC News Friday.
Dr. Tulga Şener, medical coordinator at the rescue commission of Turkey’s caving federation told NBC News that Dickey had been vomiting and bleeding, but that his condition had improved. The Turkish Caving Federation also said earlier this week on X that it had sent down six units of blood to Dickey on Tuesday to help stabilize his condition.
In a video of the American caver shared by Turkey’s communications directorate on Thursday and obtained by the Associated Press and BBC, he thanked the Turkish government and the caving community for their response in helping him get to safety.
The American researcher trapped in a cave in southern Turkey spoke on Wednesday about his experience as rescue efforts continued to help, saying he is alert even though he has not fully healed after failing ill in the cave. pic.twitter.com/C9S9h6zex2
— The Associated Press (@AP) September 8, 2023
“I don't quite know what’s happened, but I do know that the quick response of the Turkish government to get the medical supplies that I needed, in my opinion, saved my life,” said Dickey, who appeared to be standing up in front of a purple tarp, in the video. “I was very close to the edge.”
“As you can see I’m up, I’m alert and talking, but I’m not healed on the inside yet,” he added. “So, I’m gonna need a lot of help to get out of here.”
However, due to Dickey’s condition, Gretchen Baker, from National Cave Rescue Commission (NCRC) told CNN on Thursday that they are “anticipating that it will take days to get him out of the cave.”
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“The team on the ground is very happy that Mark’s condition seems to be improving, so that it looks like that he will not have to be in a [rescue] litter the entire way out,” she said, adding, “The more he can help, the faster the rescue can go.”
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