ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

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

Post by ffj » Mon Dec 04, 2017 10:28 am

Method Two for Ascending Rope

This method is called the RAD method, which stands for rapid ascent/descent. It might be proprietary to Petzl, but I'm not completely sure. It is a great system however due to the ability to raise or lower yourself with minimal fuss. You'll need a Petzl I'D, a small pulley, and a mechanical ascender, and an optional foot loop. These products are all made by Petzl in the photo but keep in mind that other manufacturers exist with similar products. You can also substitute devices also, for example, a prusik loop instead of a mechanical ascender. However, the set-up below works very well.


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Basically we will load the ID for a lower, keeping in mind that the handle must be in the neutral position to be able to advance.

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Then we will attach our rescucender above the ID and attach our pulley and tail of our rope through the pulley. We have basically now created a 2:1 mechanical advantage system to help pull us up the rope.

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Now we have two options to climb. The first is using a simple body thrust while pulling on the tail of the rope.

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When the I'D reaches the pulley, one simply advances the Rescucender further up the rope and performs more body thrusts to ascend. When you have reached your goal, simply place the I'D in a locked position, and remove the Rescucender and pulley from the rope. You are now free to unlock your I'D and descend or remain in a locked position.

The other option is even easier and that simply entails adding a foot loop to the Rescucender. Instead of a body thrust, one steps up into the loop and with the left hand holding the handle of the Rescucender. While stepping up, the right hand pulls down on the tail of the rope.

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:09 am

Method Three for Climbing Rope

This method works especially well if one has to climb a considerable distance, but unlike the previous two examples this method is strictly for ascending, which means that if one wants to descend than they must convert to a lower system. There are certain procedures one must learn in order to convert safely and efficiently which I will cover in another segment or edit into this post later, but keep in mind that you will not be going down with what I am about to show. I don't want anybody to get stuck hanging on a rope, so it is imperative you must know how to convert safely before you attempt this method!

The equipment is fairly basic: a mechanical hand ascender, a pulley, a foot loop, and a Petzl Croll, which is simply a mechanical ascender designed to attach to your harness. Again, other companies besides Petzl makes these products but Petzl usually leads innovation in rope work.

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Start by attaching the Croll to your ascending line and the hand ascender above it. Create your 2:1 mechanical advantage by placing the foot loop strap into the pulley and once you place a foot into the loop you are ready to climb. Again, before you try this method, you must be able to escape it safely, because once you weight the rope you will effectively be "captured" until you unweight the device.

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Climbing simply involves standing in the foot loop, sitting down ( the Croll will self-advance), advancing the hand descender, and repeating those steps until you've reached your objective. This is by far the fastest method to climb and if your ascent involves long distances than this a great system to use.

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Instead of a foot loop creating a 2:1 mechanical advantage system, we can substitute a foot ascender that attaches to your foot, which is even more quick for ascending, but the 2:1 saves more energy. I'll have to show that method in a later post.

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Wed Dec 06, 2017 9:28 am

The other day I saw someone ascend a rope using just a cordelette instead of prusiks and slings. I thought that could be useful as an option in case the other items aren't available. I didn't take a picture of it though so I'm not exactly sure how he did it.

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Wed Dec 06, 2017 9:45 am

Oh yeah, there are many ways to climb rope and what I am showing is typical of what a rope technician would use. A tree climber, or a rock climber etc, are going to use different methods or variations of what I've shown. If your job is to hang off of a rope all day than you will use the lightest and easiest method you can get away with and a rock climber isn't going to slug a Petzl I'D up a rock face. I like watching the tree guys climb as they have all sorts of innovative ways but it isn't practical for rope rescue as we have to anticipate two-man loads (victim and rescuer) on all of our gear.

Also, what I've chosen to show is fairly easy for the rescuer to accomplish, both physically and ease of set-up. Most of your rescuers(U.S.) are going to be firemen, who in addition to other extensive training they have to maintain, quite frankly don't get a whole lot of time on rope. Unless you belong to a department that is located next to an area with high incidence rates. You have to keep it simple and within the skill-set range of a typical firefighter or a rescue is not going to go well or take an inordinate amount of time. I've watched tree guys climb with a foot-lock and a single prusik loop just fly up a rope. Not going to happen in the fire service. :)

Are you familiar with the klemheist? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klemheist_knot The guy you saw with the cordelette could have been using that.

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Sat Dec 30, 2017 5:32 pm

Mechanical Advantage utilizing Pulley Systems


This next topic will cover basic physics of pulley systems and how we as rope rescuers utilize mechanical advantage to lift victims and rescuers up in a vertical or near vertical environment. And we start by using pulleys, which are all rated for life safety and have very good efficiencies, which means limited friction.

The single pulley with one sheave, and a double pulley with two sheaves. Note that the double pulley also has a secondary attachment point, known as a becket.

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Note also the pulleys are both rated "G", which indicates that they can withstand forces greater than 50 KN, which is a standard for two-person loads. It's important to remember too that on a double pulley that when loaded, both sheaves are utilized as to prevent cross-loading the device. Other important considerations include the range of diameter of rope the pulley is designed to carry and the diameter of the pulley itself, as too small a pulley sheave for the rope size carried will create undo tension and compression in the rope strands and also lead to increased friction.



There are simple and compound and complex pulley systems and by far the most utilized in rescue work is the simple mechanical advantage system. In a simple system, all of the moving pulleys move toward the anchor at the same rate as the load. The compound and complex will be illustrated later.

The 1:1 mechanical advantage system is the most basic system. For each foot of rope pulled, the load also advances one foot and of course the main disadvantage is that the full weight of the load must be lifted. It can also be a very fast way of moving the load again with a 1:1 relationship of how fast the rope is being pulled and caution must be exercised that a victim is not pulled up too quickly causing injury or further trauma.

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Many times we will add a COD (change of direction) pulley at the anchor. This does nothing for mechanical advantage other than re-directing the force applied. Note that we will always add a PCD (progress capture device) also to ensure that our load(victim) does not fall back down if the rope is let go or dropped. In this case it is a triple-wrapped prusik which will automatically grab the rope and prevent a fall should that occur. The pulleys also have a design feature (prusik minding) that allow the prusik to remain open as the rope is pulled through the pulley. Basically the prusik knot rests against the body of the pulley until tension is released on the rope wherein the prussic will automatically grab the rope preventing downward movement. Note that when tying the prusik knot it is important to pull sharply and load the knot several times to make sure it will grab. It is very easy, especially with new cordage, to tie the knot and it remain loose because it is too stiff to grab, hence we should work the knot until it grabs readily.

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We have to be very careful that we don't have too many rescuers pulling on the rope to raise the victim. Many times by-standers and other emergency service personnel such as police officers want to contribute and will volunteer by grabbing the rope in this system and pulling, Tremendous forces can be generated in this manner as well as uncontrolled speed and it is imperative that the Incident Commander have complete control over the lifting operation, controlling the number of pullers and the speed at which they proceed. Conversely, people assigned to pull are to obey every command given to them by the ONE person in charge of the lifting operation. All emergency operations should follow the Incident Command System.

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