CLAYTON COUNTY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- An eastern Iowa cave owner says she has measures in place to ensure all tourists and visitors have a safe trip. However, after the incident of the 12 boys getting stuck in a cave in Thailand, Spook Cave owner Paula Rasmussen said she's looking into another way to keep tourists safe.
People get ready to go into the Spook Cave in Clayton County on Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Allison Wong, KCRG-TV9)
Spook Cave is a natural cave in Clayton County, near McGregor. The 35-minute tour is done by boat with a tour guide.
Tour guide Saysha Schoulte is on her second season at the cave, so she's plenty used to loading up a boat and taking people from a hot, sunny summer day to the dark, dampness of the Spook Cave.
She has always felt safe inside the cave. "We have a lot of things helping protect the tour guides and even the tourists and visitors," she said.
Cave owner Paula Rasmussen said those safety measures are in the works even before a customer steps foot in their aluminum boats.
She said in each boat, "we know the number of people, the number of adults, kids and infants and their names."
That way if there is an emergency, they know who is in the boats.
The biggest thing Rasmussen watches out for is the level of the water in the cave.
The cave's water empties into a manmade pond. A dam in that pond regulates the cave's water.
Rasmussen said when the water level gets too high or low an alarm sounds, and maintenance staff, who are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, are alerted.
"We would go to the dam and get the level to the appropriate level and if we couldn’t keep up with the water level at a safe level we would not go into the cave," she explained.
If people are in the cave and storms are approaching, Rasmussen can alert tour guides by flashing lights inside the cave.
Schoulte explained, "we have a light system to where outside the manager will turn on and off the light three different times, so that way we know we have to leave the cave as soon as possible."
On top of all of these measures, Rasmussen wants to set up a day and time for local law enforcement to tour the cave and learn about the safety measures they have in place.
"I just want them to become more familiar with us because we do have hundreds of people come through each weekend," Rasmussen said. "Just for them to be familiar with the layout just in case we had an emergency, whether at the campground or at the cave, the more people know about the area the better for everybody.”
Rasmussen said she hasn't had any customers question the safety of the cave since the Thailand incident, but it's still something she's considerate of.
"It’s scary and as a parent of kids it’s very nerve-racking," she said.