ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

What skills to learn, what tools to get
ffj
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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Tue Oct 10, 2017 10:07 am

The Double Figure Eight (bunny ears) Anchor

Here is another way to utilize separate loops to capture two different points of contact. I've used trees in this example but a common occurrence is to utilize bolt anchors such as used in rock climbing.

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Bunny ears are easily adjustable and again we want to equalize the load on each point of contact.

Here is an example of two equal loop lengths:

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And adjusted for an offset load direction:

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Here are more examples of using two anchor bolts:

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And with webbing:

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Some like to create a self-equalizing anchor with a twist on the inside loop. The loop prevents losing the entire anchor should one leg fail.

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Last edited by ffj on Sun Oct 29, 2017 3:16 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Sclass
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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by Sclass » Wed Oct 11, 2017 9:54 pm

ffj wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:36 pm
The Prusik

This knot is usually tied with a prussic loop. It also has a multitude of uses including belaying, ascending rope, progress capture device, or a simple rope grab. The loop is normally a smaller diameter cord or rope that is secured with a double fishermans knot, although there are variations to this rule
Great thread. I've been waiting for you to mention this knot. Any experience climbing with it? I've been fantasizing about climbing a very large tree at my mom's using the prusik knots on a climbing rope so I can trim the tree.

I have no mountain climbing experience but I was hoping to try climbing the tree in 10' increments to test the technique. I've seen special mechanical attachments that do this without knots and wonder is the prusik just for emergencies like a muenter/carabiner as a substitute for a rappelling figure 8 metal loop.

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Gilberto de Piento
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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Thu Oct 12, 2017 8:53 am

Rock climbers use the prusik to ascend ropes all the time, though it is inefficient compared to using mechanical devices such as ascenders. It is good practice to carry two prusik loops (plus slings and carabiners) so that a climber can ascend the rope if needed. The petzl tibloc is a popular piece of gear that can be used in place of the prusik, is more efficient, and still cheap.

I really don't think anyone should start from a place of no knowledge about climbing and go straight to ascending a large tree to trim it, sorry. There's just too much that could go wrong.

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Thu Oct 12, 2017 10:39 am

@Sclass
Thanks. Rope training is a great way to scratch the itch of creative problem solving. It's amazing what you can do with a piece of rope.

I love climbing trees. Probably the next topic I will cover is ascending and descending rope, and the method of using a prussik will be addressed. It's actually a very simple process but it does require stamina. Don't let Gilberto scare you off ;). Once you learn the mechanics it's really fun and if you take the necessary precautions it is very safe. And I will cover all of the precautions one must consider before leaving the ground. Gravity is a bitch. :D

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Thu Oct 12, 2017 10:49 am

Another Simple Anchor

Here is another way to secure an anchor that actually captures the object being used. It's a nice alternative to the basket hitch.

Start by wrapping the tree at least two times. I did three in this case because of the length of the rope I had, but keep in mind anything over three is overkill and it may interfere with the proper loading of your carabiner.

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Wrap it so that your tails end up roughly on the side of the anchor and secure with a double-fisherman knot:

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Thu Oct 12, 2017 11:55 am

The Tension Tie-Back

There will be occasions where your primary anchor point will be sub-optimal. This can happen near cliff edges where the trees are somewhat stunted because of the topography . So we need a way to reinforce that primary anchor so we can utilize well-placed points of contact.

Start by tying a regular anchor to the under-sized or stunted tree (yellow) and another anchor that loops through the first one and is in the direction of the larger tree which will reinforce the smaller one:

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Tie an anchor to the larger tree that is in-line to the eventual load that will be applied to the primary anchor:

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Now we want to connect the two together so that when a load is applied to the primary anchor, both trees will be sharing the load. Since we have intertwined the two anchors on the primary tree, in the event the tree were to fail, the reinforcing tree would be able to capture the load. Keep in mind this would be a very bad event if this were to occur, so it is a redundancy that we would never want to utilize.

Start by tying a figure eight on a bight and connecting it to the primary anchor:

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Then it's a simple matter of looping a rope a couple of times through each tie-back carabiner:

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Now that we have a couple of loops in the system, we can utilize its mechanical advantage to get the tie-back very snug. With a partner, each of the four strands can be held and pulled in the direction of its intended travel. So work with a partner and just pull your dedicated strand and you'll be amazed at how tight you can make this system. Once we have accomplished that, we need to tie it off to maintain that tension.

Start by forming a large bight of the remaining tail and forming two half-hitches to be tied against the carabiner. You can maintain tension simply by pinching the rope against the carabiner before the half-hitches are applied.

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Once we have tied the two half-hitches, we need to finish with an overhand followed by a linked carabiner to ensure the knot cannot become undone:

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An overview of the complete system:

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Sclass
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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by Sclass » Thu Oct 12, 2017 8:19 pm

Thanks for the warnings. I've actually topped the same trees as a 13 yo kid using backyard tree climbing skills and a loop of safety line clipped to the trunk. My dad would belay a safety line. Prolly considered child abuse today. :lol: Now that I'm faced with doing this alone I thought I'd try acending the rope with the knots. But...if there is a mechanical device that works better I'd like to buy one.

So a Prussik knot will be a huge improvement over climbing from limb to limb. I'm thinking I should try it first climbing say 10'. I think if I use a propper harness and clip in with safety line not much can go wrong. I can wear my bike helmet. :lol: Heh heh.

I'll probably just throw down $4000 and have the pros do it which is what I did a few years ago. It just didn't look all that magical and I felt I could have saved some green by climbing up myself.

I bought this book called Knots by Gordon Perry at a book discounter and I've been fantasizing about this for years.

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Gilberto de Piento
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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Thu Oct 12, 2017 8:48 pm

Don't let Gilberto scare you off ;).
I don't want to scare or discourage anyone, I just want people to be safe. I'm not here to rain on anyone's parade and I think ropework is great and a lot of fun. :)

I think what really has me on a safety kick is that lately I've been seeing lots of people who just bought the gear for climbing or treework (I've done both), got little to no instruction, and are inventing methods as they go along. I'm all for risk taking by people who understand the risks they are exposing themselves to (example: Alex Honnold) but a lot of people are casually being really dangerous and have no idea. Thankfully I've never been around when someone has been hurt but I've seen some wake up calls for people who thought there was no problem (sometimes after being told otherwise).

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Thu Oct 12, 2017 11:07 pm

@Sclass

There are tons of mechanical devices that make it very easy to climb rope which I'll showcase later. But prusiks work well too and are much cheaper. Before you start climbing just make sure your rope and all related gear are rated for life safety, and I would make sure your skills are solidified before carrying sharp objects such as handsaws and chainsaws up with you. :D

Simple tree jobs are pretty satisfying but you got to know when to call the pros too. I watch this guy quite a bit and he really does a professional and safe job and I've learned quite a bit from him.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSSqc6 ... -LBrjyRrvw

@Gilberto

Safety is everything, I agree, but I want to impress upon you and others that once reasonable safety requirements are met it's time to go to work. If Sclass does his due diligence and follows safety procedures then he shouldn't become unnecessarily worried about trimming a tree. What i would like to impress upon others is that once one has sufficient knowledge and skill, it takes a huge amount of danger out of the equation, even if it looks dangerous.

I hope you realize that I'm not dismissing your concerns, but I want to empower people who are interested in this to become good at it and subsequently become safe at it.

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Thu Oct 12, 2017 11:19 pm

The Anchor Sling

There are pre-made anchor slings manufactured that are very easy to use and take out the necessity to tie an anchor. They are very fast and should be used when possible to save time, however, keep in mind that most departments don't carry a lot of these and they won't always be suitable for the job at hand. Some are adjustable in length and some are fixed length and we need to make sure that we use the correct length whenever possible.

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It's as simple as it gets:

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We can also use this particular one in the choker mode but keep in mind that half of the strength rating disappears when this is done:

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And here is the strength ratings for different configurations along with the date of manufacture. Note the difference between a basket sling and a choker.

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Sclass
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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by Sclass » Fri Oct 13, 2017 6:18 am

Thanks for the warnings. I'm going to leave this to the pros. I'll probably still ascend 10' to see if it works, but I'm actually worried about other things like branches snapping under me or felling unpredictability and strangling me between the tree and the ropes...I've heard stories by an old timer about palm tree trimming accidents in LA where the cutter gets leaned back on his harness by heavy fronds.

Cool to see such techniques exist.

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Fri Oct 13, 2017 8:53 pm

@Sclass

You can always climb for the fun of it. Check out http://www.newtribe.com




The Pickett System Anchor

Sometimes there just isn't anything to tie to and a vehicle can't be driven to the spot needed to use as an anchor. So we have to improvise and that is where the pickett system comes into play. Basically it involves driving three stakes into the ground and tying them all together to create a very strong attachment point. The stakes should be long enough, roughly four feet long and driven most to the way into the ground at roughly a 15 to 20 degree angle.

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The stakes are spaced roughly four feet from each other in a straight line:

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Once they are driven into the ground at the proper angle, we take a rope that is doubled up and tie a clove hitch at the bottom of the first stake and then tie a second clove hitch above it:

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From this second clove hitch, we tie another at the bottom of the second stake, and repeat the sequence to the third stake:

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Finish this last clove hitch with several half hitches to secure the rope:

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Now that the three stakes are tied together, we must tension them up with the use of two smaller stakes. We simply insert them between the two strands between stakes and twist until the system is tight. Once this occurs, drive the smaller stake into the ground to secure the tension:

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At this point the anchor is finished and we can attach to the loop of the first stake:

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Gilberto de Piento
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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Fri Oct 13, 2017 9:53 pm

I hope you realize that I'm not dismissing your concerns, but I want to empower people who are interested in this to become good at it and subsequently become safe at it.
We are on the same page, I just like more cautionary notes and hand wringing with my technical instruction. :D

The picket and the slings you just posted are interesting, I've never seen those. The labels on the slings with ratings for more than one configuration are new to me. Rock climbing gear usually just has one rating in Nm.

Ever gone rock climbing? One of the best sport climbing areas in the US, Red River Gorge, is in Kentucky (where I think you are located).

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Fri Oct 13, 2017 10:30 pm

Yeah the configurations matter and that pickett system is crazy strong. I've flipped tractors using that anchor with a 9:1 mechanical advantage system.

I've spent many a day and night in the Red River Gorge and back when I was younger and much skinnier did some rock climbing there. A 5.10 was my limit as I wasn't that good. It's a beautiful area but extremely crowded anymore so I haven't been back in a while. If I lived closer I would love to be on the rope rescue team that services that area as they see a lot of action, most of it from intoxicated or impaired people unfortunately. There is a ton of trad climbing there too btw.

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Fri Oct 27, 2017 9:27 am

Here is a handy schematic from Pat Rhodes book about proper anchor vector forces. This is something I should have described at the beginning of discussing anchors but better late than never.

The angle of the tied or placed anchor matters. Improperly tied anchors can actually exceed the weight of the load on EACH leg of our anchor. Our goal is to have each leg of the anchor share approximately half of the load, or as realistically close to that as possible given the conditions and equipment the rescue scene offers you. We're not looking for perfection, but anchors that fall well within the safety parameters. And with practice, you will develop an eye for what passes as acceptable.

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As a general rule, we are shooting for about a 20 degree anchor, but that won't always be possible. As a GENERAL rule of thumb, 90 degrees is about the cutoff before another method is utilized. I say this because there are always exceptions to any rule but a handy way of checking whether you have exceeded 90 degrees is to place your hand with your thumb and forefinger in the "L" position and place against your anchor. Being that the "L" shape is roughly 90 degrees, anything greater than that span should be questioned. The most common error occurs when a fixed length anchor sling is slung around something and it is just a little bit too short creating an unacceptable angle. That is why we need to be comfortable tying anchors with rope or webbing because fixed lengths won't always work.

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Fri Oct 27, 2017 11:01 am

Descending Rope

This is where it starts getting fun, but also where it starts getting dangerous if you do it improperly. So as a DISCLAIMER, as I don't want anyone to get hurt, everything I am about to show you is meant to be utilized as a reference and guide to be utilized with a qualified instructor. Got that? An instructor will have the proper ropes, belay lines, harnesses, etc. as well as the means to extricate you should something go wrong.

I have not covered belays, harnesses and safety equipment, proper types of ropes, self-rescue techniques, overall safety, etc. If you choose to try what I am about to show you than you MUST have the proper ropes, rappel device and life safety equipment, harness, belay, and an ability to self-rescue should something go wrong. Again, this information is meant to prepare you for a great experience with a one-on-one qualified instructor.



The most common rappel device is the Rescue 8, which differs slightly from a recreational 8-plate.

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It's fairly simple to load, but keep in mind that it must be detached from your harness first. Which also means that you should be a safe distance away from the edge of your rappel, or you must first be tethered to your belay. We want to avoid a situation of someone falling while trying to thread their Rescue 8.

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Note that I am right-handed, therefore the running end will fall to my right side.

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At this point we can attach the device to our harness.

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All rappel devices rely on friction, and by placing the running end in the small of my back, I can control my descent. It's important to keep all fingers, hair, and clothing out of and away from the Rescue 8 once moving as they can easily be captured between the rope and device once underway. Most people like to hold on to something with their opposite hand and the base of the Rescue 8 is a good choice. We don't want to grab the rope above the device.

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If you are heavier, than you may need more friction. This is easily accomplished by double-loading the device.

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As rescuers, we need the option of locking off the device once we've reached our victim or we need to do work with our hands free. This is easily accomplished with some practice and a well-practiced rescuer can do this with minimal loss of altitude.

As we will be placing the running end opposite our control hand, we must change hand placement.

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At this point we must pull down hard to lock it in place.

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At this point we can free our hands.

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For added security, we can double lock it.

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Finally, if you are in a position where there are multiple pitches you must descend and therefore must bring the rope with you as you go, then we can simply wrap the center of the rope around an anchor and use both strands to rappel with. Once at the bottom, we can pull on side to retrieve the rope for the next rappel.

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Gilberto de Piento
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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Fri Oct 27, 2017 3:44 pm

That's interesting. Being able to lock it off and to increase friction seems useful for rescue. I'm only familiar with the tube style and some of the more exotic climbing devices (ex: gri gri). Do you back up with a prusik?

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Fri Oct 27, 2017 5:37 pm

You can back it up with a prusik, but in the rescue world a separate belay line is required. But yes, I've used a prusik on a rappel line many times.

I've got several more devices coming up with the ATC probably most familiar to you or possibly a Petzl ID. Lots of different ways to skin this cat.

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Sun Oct 29, 2017 11:00 am

The Brake Rack

Another common way to descend a rope is to use a brake rack:

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It has multiple bars that are adjustable for the weight and mass of the load applied:

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One simply threads the rope in alternating directions over the bars, with the number of bars used dictated by the weight of the person. Most people (for a one person load) will not need over two to three bars, especially when the hyper bar (the top bar with the pin sticking up in it on the upper right) is utilized. A major advantage of this device is that one can add or subtract bars while the device is under load.

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One of the main disadvantages of this device is how long it it, although manufacturers do make shorter versions.

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If one need to stop mid-rappel, then a tie off is required, which is a simple matter of removing the rope from the hyper-bar and locking it in place behind the standing part, wrapping the tail twice over the bars, and tying it off with an overhand. Note that there are several ways to accomplish locking a brake rack off and this is just one example.

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Mon Oct 30, 2017 9:15 am

Our next option is going to highlight two very similar products made by the same manufacturer. They are the Petzl Rig and the Petzl ID. These products as well as their competitors versions have revolutionized the rope rescue world. The major advantages are that they have multiple other uses and they don't require a tie-off to stop. Stopping merely requires the user to stop pulling on the handle and placing it in the locked position.

The Petzl Rig

Note this device is designed for a one-man load. One can also load it while it remains attached to your harness.

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And it's big brother the Petzl ID. This device is designed for a two-man load and must be loaded unattached to the harness.

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If you'll notice in the above photo there are several options in the handle position. Basically lock, store, descent(rappel), belay. We will cover the belay option later but right now we are interested in descending rope.

It's very simple to load these devices. Note that the handle must be OUT of the store or lock position.

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Once the rope is loaded, simply swing the cover plate into position, and attach to your harness. Again the Rig can be pre-attached as the cover will snap into place.

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The last two above photos of the ID and Rig show the handles in the locked position. The operator will not move while this is the case. To actually descend, both devices work the same by pulling the handle down into the descend mode. Note that the ID has a panic feature where if the operator pulls down too hard and far, the device will automatically stop the descent. To reset the device if this occurs one simply swings the handle to the right until a click is heard and the device is again ready for operation. No unlocking will occur during the reset. The Rig doesn't have this feature, but keep in mind if one simply lets go of the handle of either device, the operator will automatically stop.

Handle position for descent:

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If more friction is needed, one simply places a carabiner on the side of their harness and threads the tail through. This is especially helpful if there is a two man load on the device and for people used to using a Rescue 8 who are right handed. It gives their right hand something to do and may feel more natural.

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Tue Oct 31, 2017 7:42 pm

This next device has gained a lot in popularity in the past few years due to its simplicity and compactness, as well as it's multi-functionability. We'll focus on descending for the moment however.

This is the Conterra SCARAB. It's sort of like a brake rack as it has a bar the rope wraps around but it also has "horns" which aid in friction. It is very simple to load:

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You are now ready to rappel, however, depending on your size and weight, more friction may be required, which is easily accomplished:

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This configuration (below) will give one a lot of control, but you could even load that fourth horn and hold the tail of the rope upward:

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Now if we need to lock this device off, it is simply a matter of loading that fourth horn and tying a half-hitch around the upper right horn:

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Above is what is known as a soft lock. We can further the security of the lock-off if we need to leave the device unattended, such as when we are lowering someone. It is simply a matter on tying another half-hitch on the horn below:

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If we use a double rope technique then our procedures change slightly:

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Since we have two ropes, we will have to load both upper horns and for added friction, the two lower horns. Note that your tails will be in an upward position if the two lower horns are utilized.

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And to tie it off the method remains the same but keep in mind that both sides will have to be tied:

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Wed Nov 01, 2017 11:33 am

I've got a couple more techniques to show you for descending rope and then we will move on to another topic. Keep in mind however that there are multiple other devices on the market but I've tried to show you the most common and popular ones.

As a rope rescuer, it is important to have a back-up plan should your initial plan go awry. What if you were to drop your device over the cliff edge? Or you were to climb a rope only to to realize you forgot to bring a descending device? Or your device somehow failed or became locked up and unable to be used?

The first back-up is actually a rock climbing belay device that does well for a single person rappel. I leave one clipped to my harness as it is very light and hardly noticeable. It's not meant for rescue work per se but as a means to self-extricate should other methods fail.

This is the Black Diamond ATC, which actually stands for air traffic controller. ;)

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You can load it with a single strand or double strands:

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For a double strand:

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The second back-up method doesn't require a device at all. It is simply using a Munter Hitch. Note that this method will introduce a twist to your rope as you descend and you'll have to unwind your coil before use again but it works well should you have no other choice.

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Keep your strands PARALLEL with each other and tail UPWARD as you descend. This will maximize your friction.

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And we can also use double strands, although bulkier.

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The third back-up would be simply to down-climb using a set of prusiks, which I will cover when I address methods for climbing rope.

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Sun Dec 03, 2017 7:24 pm

Ascending rope

There will be many times a rescuer will have to climb a rope whether to access a victim or simply reposition himself in the rope system for better work access. There are many ways to accomplish this task but I am going to limit the methods down to four which work quite well.


Method One: Climbing with a set of prusik loops

This is by far the simplest, cost friendly, and available methods to use. Every rescuer should always carry a set of prusik loops on them at all times as they are so incredible handy for quick adjustments, fixing problems, or in this case to climb rope. So we will start with the basic requirements:

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Note that the length of the loops are somewhat dependent on the body type of the climber for maximum efficiency. Once one starts practicing this method you can quickly dial in what length works best for your body as everybody is different.

The waist loop is fastened above the leg loop, each with a triple wrapped prusik knot. Note that the climber has a second line (blue one) which is his belay line. This rope is dedicated to catch him should his mainline or prusik loop fail. Note also that the prusik loops are rated for life safety.

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The basic method is a sit (load the waist loop) and stand (step up into the foot loop and stand) procedure. First, we want to advance our waist loop as high as we can from a standing position and then sit down, letting the prusik carry our weight. While in this sitting position, we next advance the foot loop up to the waist loop, place our foot or feet in the foot loop, grab the rope up high with our hands, and then stand up. This will loosen the waist loop which we should advance as high as we can, then, we simply sit down and repeat until we have climbed as high as we need to go.

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Keep in mind that we can also down-climb a rope utilizing the same method. One simply reverses the procedure.

Also keep in mind that this method can be very taxing if the climber is out of shape or top-heavy from excessive body weight, but it is a tried and true method that allows one to climb at a fairly quick rate.

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Sclass
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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by Sclass » Sun Dec 03, 2017 8:35 pm

FFJ,thanks for sharing. This is something I dream about. Nice hardware.

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Mon Dec 04, 2017 9:50 am

@Sclass

No problem. If you want to get started before I finish this project PM me and I'll fill you in on lots of details such as rope and harness selection and a belay that I haven't gotten to yet. It may take me a while for a complete picture to emerge. haha

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