Help for Editors

This page provides guidance on editing incidents.

General principles

The purpose of this project is to make information about caving incidents available in a modern and accessible format. For this to be done, incidents need to be categorised, and the metadata relating to an incident — such as the cave name or the type of group involved — need to be separated from the content of the incident report itself.

Editing UI

When editing an incident, fields which do not have a value, or are marked as None or Unknown, are highlighted in red. This does not mean that you are required to fill out these fields before proceeding. Rather, it is simply to draw your attention to data that is not held in the database. If you have reviewed the incident report and are unable to populate the field based on the data available, you can leave it as it is.

Data normalisation

Care should be taken to ensure that information relating to each incident is structured within appropriate fields. The Incident report field need not contain a header with the cave name, as the cave name is already stored in the incident metadata. Similarly, analysis of the incident should not be in the Incident report field as Incident analysis is a separate field. This normalisation of data is critical for producing a consistent and accessible database and the principle applies to all fields, not just the ones mentioned above.

AI generated data

Incidents are initially extracted from the original ACA Journal PDFs using OCR and then analysed by an AI model which extracts metadata and properly formats the incident report. AI models are prone to errors, and it is important that editors thoroughly check the data which has been generated.

The Incident report field is automatically compared to the original and flagged if it is significantly different, which helps to mitigate the possibility of this information being incorrect. In other cases, however, the AI is asked to make a subjective judgement, such as when populating the Category field. Editors should take extra care in reviewing these fields and not hesitate to change them if they are incorrect.

Incident metadata


The date of the incident. For some incidents, the precise date is not known, in which case the closest month or year should be selected, and the Approximate date checkbox used. For example, if we only know that the incident occurred in 1970, the date should be entered as 1970-01-01 and the Approximate date checkbox selected. If the incident occurred in June 1970, but no date is given, the date should be entered as 1970-06-01 and the Approximate date checkbox selected.


The name of the cave in which the incident occurred. If the cave name is not known, you must enter Unknown.

State/US State

The state in which the incident occurred. Either field may be left blank, but only one of them can be completed. Incidents which did not take place in the United States which have a value in the US State field will be rejected.


The county in which the incident occurred. If the county is not known, leave this field blank.


The country in which the incident occurred. This field is mandatory.


Used to distinguish different types of underground activity.

Category Meaning
Cave The incident involves a trip into a cave.
Cave Diving The incident involves diving within a cave, or in a cave-like environment such as a mine.
Mine The incident involves a trip into a mine. This includes both abandoned and active mines.
Other The incident does not fit into any of the above categories. Enter more information in the Notes field if necessary.

Primary type

Almost all caving related incidents can be categorised into one of the types listed in the dropdown. Please select the one which best describes the incident. If the incident does not fit into any of the available types, you must enter Other.

Secondary and tertiary type

These fields are optional and should only be used if the incident can be categorised into more than one type. For example, if a caver suffered a fall which was caused by faulty equipment, the primary type would be Caver fall and the secondary type would be Equipment problems. In most cases, None will be selected.

Aid type

The type of aid (rescue) required for this incident. Unknown must only be selected if it is not possible to determine if aid was required or not, otherwise None must be used to indicate that no organised rescue took place. If SPAR (self-rescue) techniques were used but no external aid was required, None must be selected.

If more than one category is met, such as both Surface aid and Underground aid, the most severe category of intervention must be selected, which would be Underground aid in this case. If someone died and their body was recovered from a cave, Body recovery must be selected.

Field Meaning
Unknown It is not possible to determine type of aid delivered from the report.
None No organised rescue took place. Self-rescue may have taken place.
Surface aid Aid was provided outside of the cave, such as an ambulance attending after cavers exited.
Underground aid Aid was provided inside of the cave, such as an organised search party to find lost cavers, or an injured caver was hauled out.
Body recovery Someone died inside of the cave and their body was recovered by a rescue team.
Aid on standby A rescue team was organised, and may have gone to the cave, but no aid was required.
Other Any aid provided which does not fit into the above categories.

Group type

The type of group involved in the incident.

This field can be very subjective, and your judgement should be used, in particular when deciding between Cavers and Novice cavers or between Novice cavers and Non-cavers.

Group size

The total number of people in the underground group when the incident occurred — not the number of injured people or the number of people directly involved. Do not include any rescuers that were not part of the original group. If the group size is not known, you must leave this field blank.


This is the source of the information contained within the original incident report. It is not who submitted it to the ACA Journal, nor who wrote the report, but rather who provided the original information regarding the incident. For example, if the incident report is based on a report by a newspaper, the source would be Third party. If the source is not known, you must select Unknown.

Field Meaning
Unknown It is not possible to determine the source of the information.
Injured caver Someone who was underground and injured as part of the incident provided the information.
Member of injured caver's party Someone who was underground at the time of the incident but not injured provided the information.
Third party The information was provided by someone who was not present at the time of the incident.

Incident flags

A number of flags exist, to mark incidents which have certain characteristics. If an incident meets the criteria for a flag, the checkbox must be selected. You may select any, or none, of the flags for any given incident.

Flag Meaning
Fatality Someone died as part of, or as a result of, the incident.
Injury Someone was physically injured as part of the incident. This flag should also be selected if there was a fatality.
Multiple incidents The caving trip contained a series of incidents which are not directly related. For example, several falls, or two unrelated injuries. Some subjectivity may be required to determine if the incidents are related or not.
Rescue duration over 24 hours A rescue team was on-site at the incident for more than 24 hours. This does not include the time taken to travel to the cave or any time that a rescue team was on standby but not at the location of the incident.
Vertical incident The incident involved the usage of vertical caving techniques. Do not include simple free climbing in this category. As a general guide, this flag should be selected if some equipment, such as a rope, or ladders, was required to ascend or descend the cave.
Self rescue Self-rescue techniques were used by the caving group to resolve the incident. This does not include any techniques used by any external rescue teams which attended later. An example of self rescue would be a caver who fell and injured themselves but was able to exit the cave without assistance from their group, or a group which set up a hauling system themselves. This flag must still be selected if the self rescue was unsuccessful and organised rescue later took place.

Incident text fields

Incident report

The original text of the incident report from the person who reported it, or from the journal from which it was taken. This field should contain a factual description of the events that took place underground only and should not contain any analysis or references to external publications or resources.

Incident analysis

Any analysis of the incident which was included in the original journal, or any analysis by the person who reported the incident. Do not provide your own analysis.


A short (maximum 400 characters) summary of the incident. This should be a factual description of the incident, and you may provide the summary yourself. Examples of short summaries may be:


A list of references to external publications, resources, or websites which contain information about the incident. This could be caving journal articles, newspaper websites, or other sources of information such as names of cavers who reported the incident. If the reference is to a printed publication, the name, author, date, year and page number must be provided if available.

Each reference must be entered on a new line.


Any other information which may be relevant to someone reading the incident. Some examples may be: