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

Post by ffj » Sat Dec 30, 2017 9:08 pm

Our next mechanical advantage system will be the 2:1. On any even numbered system the end of the rope will terminate at the anchor and a movable pulley(s) will travel with the load. The load in this case is 15 pounds and with a 2:1 in place, the operator will only have to pull 7.5 pounds of force to move the load. He will also have to pull two feet of rope to move the load one foot. Similarly, the speed is also affected. The speed of the load moving is half of what the operator's pulling speed. Note that I am not including friction or any other inefficiencies when making these comparisons. I'll discuss those factors later.

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The progress capture device is placed with the movable pulley which could be a disadvantage at times.

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We can also add a change of direction pulley at the anchor which can help redirect the direction of our pulling force. This can be very handy when obstacles prevent pulling in certain directions.

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On a 2:1 the most direct way to add the prusik progress capture device is on the line closest to the load, and has the benefit of becoming a shock absorber that will actually start slipping around 4.5 KN, which can be a good proactive measure against allowing the system to become overloaded. I would seriously question the need for that much force on a system and that feature can act as a warning system. A disadvantage or possible advantage of the PCD traveling with the load is that the rescuer and/or victim may need to tend it depending on the operation. However, we can also add the PCD indirectly at the COD pulley which keep it accessible to rescuers at the anchor. Here is an example:

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This allows more than one strand of rope to absorb any shock loads also. You'll notice that independent 4:1 utilizes this concept.

Now notice how easy it is to convert this into a 4:1 simply by adding another pulley.

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The same ratios apply with a 4:1. This time the operator only needs to pull a quarter of the weight of the load while pulling 4 times the length of rope to raise or move the load one quarter of that length. A 4:1 system is commonly used in rope rescue most notably in a "set of fours" or a haul safe. With two double pulleys it is very easy to create a compact 4:1.

Start by tying off to one of the beckets of the double pulleys. I've used a splice here but a figure eight on a bight knot will also work. Then start loading the bottom sheaves of the pulleys and finishing off by loading the two top sheaves. Try to keep everything tidy without crossed lines if possible.

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Here is what it should look like under tension:

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We can add a PCD which is placed on the strand opposite the tail.

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A haul safe is just a larger version of a 4:1 mechanical advantage pulley system often used in confined space access. Instead of a prusik as a PCD it utilizes a mechanical rope cam. To disengage a locked rope, one must pull tension on the system while pulling the wire loop of the cam, which will release the rope. One can also lock the cam out of the way to create a free spool system too.

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Last edited by ffj on Mon Jan 01, 2018 6:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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daylen
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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by daylen » Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:48 pm

It is always interesting to see theory translated into practice!

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Sun Dec 31, 2017 10:06 am

@Daylen

Glad you enjoy it.

It's gets real interesting once we move beyond the basic building blocks and get into entire systems. We'll get there at some point, I promise.

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Sun Dec 31, 2017 10:25 am

Our next pulley system is a 3:1, which is a very common haul system utilized in rope rescue. A lot of people will call it a Z drag or something similar and many beginning rescuers learn this one first.

We start with the end of the rope terminated at the load and a stationary pulley at the anchor.

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Add a second moving pulley:

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And add our prusik rope grab and our prusik PCD:

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And under tension:

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By this point the ratios should be self-evident in regards to amount of rope pulled/distance load moved, speed, and amount of weight (force applied) to move the load.


Just as it is quite easy to convert a 2:1 to a 4:1, it is equally easy to convert a 3:1 to a 5:1. We would do this if we have a limited number of haulers or we need to slow the speed down considerably. Start by replacing the single pulleys with double pulleys and load the pulleys very similarly to how the 4:1 set of fours was loaded.

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by daylen » Sun Dec 31, 2017 11:05 am

One thing I recommend is to develop a classification system for navigating this information based on utility, complexity, and application. All this is second nature for you by this point, but such a system would useful for some beginners such as myself. Though, it also depends on your target audience.

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by Seppia » Sun Dec 31, 2017 1:02 pm

This is so amazing thanks a TON for sharing.
Quick tangent
I am blown away by the amount of useful (or potentially useful) information that revolves around this ERE microcosm.
It's like people "speak" only if they have something useful to add, and the average high quality raises the bar, so others also are pushed to only post if they have something useful to say.
Thanks to the community as a whole, and ffj in particular for this thread.

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Sun Dec 31, 2017 2:09 pm

@Daylen
I understand. We are still in the building blocks phase however. Before one picks the best haul system, he first has to know what is available to choose from. Imagine what I am showing at the moment is sort of like the knots. We have to learn those before we start tying anchors, for example.

I've completed the simple systems and I'll be moving on to compound systems next. Stay with me, I promise it will all come together at some point.

@Seppia

My pleasure. I've been pleasantly surprised on the positive feedback on this thread. I really thought no one would care to be honest. Seriously, it means a lot when I receive compliments from people like you.

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Mon Jan 01, 2018 7:24 pm

Compound Mechanical Advantage Systems

A compound system is a simple system acting upon another simple system. While a simple system standing alone can accomplish most applications of rope rescue, there may be times when a compound system is called upon depending on availability of gear or the need for a greater mechanical advantage. It's important to remember that the collapse rates of each system are going to be different, even when the same ratios are used. A common tactic is to anchor the secondary system further back so that the throw is much longer. Here are some examples and if you will concentrate on the initial simple system connected to the load it becomes quite easy to determine each system.

A 6:1 compound system. Here the initial system in orange (3:1) is being pulled by a 2:1 in green. We multiply the individual systems to figure the compounds mechanical advantage.

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A 9:1 compound system. This is simply a 3:1 acting upon a 3:1.

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And a 12:1 compound system. Here we have a 4:1 acting upon a 3:1, resulting in a 12:1 mechanical advantage. This is also an example of a piggyback system wherein a separate contained system (4:1 set of fours) is attached to the tail of the 3:1.

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Keep in mind that all of these systems shown have been greatly compressed so that I could photograph them in one frame. In operation, one needs a fair amount of room to operate a compound system due to the amount or rope involved and many times separate anchors. These are also powerful systems that I have used to flip horse trailers and tractors in training scenarios, so they are quite strong.
Last edited by ffj on Mon Jan 01, 2018 7:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Mon Jan 01, 2018 7:51 pm

Complex Pulley System

A complex system is defined usually by what it isn't, as it is neither a simple or compound pulley system. These systems typically will have a pulley that moves toward the load also. Here is an example of a complex 5:1. The anchor is to the left and the load is to the right.

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This set-up could be handy for a single rescuer that's confined to a small cliff edge for example. The disadvantage is the amount of resets and throws this system would entail. Normally, and if possible, rescuers want to utilize the MAS (mechanical advantage system) that results in the least amount of resets for the rescue assuming they have the manpower to facilitate that plan. Complex systems are an outlier in rope rescue work for the most part.

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:19 pm

Now that a few options have been shown in regards to pulley systems, we need to quickly pick a system that will meet our needs at the time of a rescue. In order to do that we must ask ourselves several questions:

1. What is the load, and how much does it weigh? Are we raising a single person, a horse, or a victim and and a rescuer, for example? Typically we tend to stick to simple systems and a 3:1 or a 5:1 can accomplish quite a wide range of applications, especially for one or two-person loads. We want to employ the least amount of rope necessary and the least amount of resets, which happens when the traveling pulley reaches the stationary pulley. When this occurs, we set the progress capture device so that it holds the weight of the load and advance our traveling pulley back towards the load. This is something that I will probably illustrate in the future.

2. How many rescue personnel are on scene to effect the rescue and can we plausibly use other emergency personnel for pulling? There is a technique for pulling on the tail end of a pulley system that lay people may not understand. If I have say 4 people pulling then that means that all four are holding on to the rope and walking in unison directly away from and in line with the pulley system. There is no hand over hand motion while stationary, rather one simply grabs hold of the rope and walks when told to do so and at a speed that an Incident Commander or an Operations Commander indicates. Most importantly, the pullers stop immediately when told to do so. When the lead puller comes to an obstacle or simply runs out of room, he immediately lets go of the rope and gets back in line right behind the last puller. Raising a victim should be a very smooth operation and all pullers should be paying close attention to the orders given.

If we are severely limited by the number of rescuers present, we can upgrade our pulling capacity for example from a 3:1 to a 5:1 simply because there aren't as many people raising the load. This makes it easier for the rescuers but it will take more time.

3. What equipment is available? Not all emergency departments are alike in rope rescue equipment or training. Sometimes the most ideal set-up isn't attainable simply because the equipment just isn't there or the rescuers present don't know how to do a certain technique. That is why it is so important to be proficient in several methods for almost every application in rope rescue.



Also, what I've shown so far are basic systems that don't involve any of the many aids available in rope rescue. For example, here is a 3:1 that I personally carry for pick-offs or small applications.

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Notice that the stationary pulley actually has the progress capture built into the device.

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This is a device called a mini-Traxion:

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I wanted to illustrate that there are several devices that incorporate this feature in their haul systems and as rescuers we must be proficient in their use as well as mechanical rope grabs and more sophisticated devices such as the CMC MPD. However, before we advance to the popular devices available we must conquer the most basic systems with a couple of pulleys and some prusik cord, because again not all departments will have the same equipment.

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Wed Jan 10, 2018 7:41 pm

Just for fun, here is a system that enables two people to pull at the same time. This could be used when the victim is able to help pull himself out of a hole for example. Not widely used but I thought it may be of interest to others here. The long tail could be dropped to the victim while the rescuer up top could pull on the shorter tail coming from the Mini-Traxion.

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Last edited by ffj on Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Wed Jan 10, 2018 8:04 pm

Rigging a Rescue Litter for Low Angle

There are several ways to rig a rescue litter for low to steep angle rescues. It is important to know several ways due to rescue variabilities such as equipment selection and availability. We'll be focusing on an anchor or attachment to the front of the litter due to the preferred orientation when raising or lowering. We'll also cover high angle rigging later.

A low to steep angle is just that, and it covers terrain with a small slope that is somewhat difficult to travel up to steep angles that completely necessitate rope systems to keep ones balance and more importantly not further injure the patient. A typical litter will look like this:

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In most cases, we want to form an attachment point on the end where the patients head would rest. This allows the patient to keep his upper body naturally higher when raising or lowering.

This particular litter has attachment points so naturally we would use those if possible.

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And it is a simple matter of forming a loop with a water knot and finishing the attachment point:

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Wed Jan 10, 2018 8:13 pm

Other methods are utilized if the attachment points aren't a part of the design. Sticking with a loop of webbing, here is a simple alternative:

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Pull a bight through the middle. Pay attention to where the water knot ends up.

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And form two wraps on each end:

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Gather all three loops and dress the anchor:

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Wed Jan 10, 2018 8:26 pm

Method three utilizes a rope with a figure of eight tied in the middle:

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Tie two clove hitches onto the top rail outside of the upright posts.

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Then we want to take the tails and wrap them around the top rail towards the foot of the litter.

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At the foot, and importantly once the patient is secured in the basket, we can tie the two ends together with a square knot. If it is preferable, one can also tie two clove hitches onto the top rail on either side before tying the square knot. Since the square knot is subject to loosing, we will always back it up.

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And finished:

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Last edited by ffj on Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Wed Jan 10, 2018 8:34 pm

Before we move on to directly tying into the litter with rope, there is one more method that is quick and easy. This is a great way to attach tag lines very quickly. Start by weaving the webbing around the upright posts:

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Center the middle loop with the two ends and then simply tie an overhand knot.

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Wed Jan 10, 2018 8:59 pm

Instead on forming a separate attachment point with webbing or accessory rope, we can always tie in directly with a main line. By far the simplest way is to tie a figure of eight follow through, or retrace eight:

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If we want to utilize a more self-equalizing system, we can tie a bowline on a coil. This knot can be intimidating at first, but once you realize it is simply a bowline with the middle coil captured inside the knot it becomes much more easy to visualize and in turn tie. Start by weaving the rope from right to left as such:

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Form a loop(be very specific here) and place it inside the center coil:

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Pick up the loop:

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And form a bight with the standing part and place it into the loop. Notice this how the center coil becomes captured.

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Now simply place the tail of the working end into the last loop created. The last step is to dress the knot by pulling on the tail and standing part.

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Last edited by ffj on Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by DSKla » Wed Jan 10, 2018 10:52 pm

Super cool stuff! I wish there was somewhere to sign up to learn how to do this, short of being a fireman, even as a volunteer. I'd be all over that.

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:49 am

Some places have volunteer search and rescue teams where you would be able to learn and use these techniques.

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by ffj » Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:56 pm

@DSKla

Communities are always looking for motivated people such as yourself, and as Gilberto has alluded to, many of them are volunteer. If you are serious I would find a department that had a search and rescue team and volunteer your services. Don't worry if you don't know anything just yet, that will come with training. And it's a lot of fun too.



I thought I would show a simple low-angle scenario that kind of ties everything together thus far. A lot of rope rescues involve some fairly minor slopes. Imagine a hiker that has fallen off of the trail down an embankment and injured themselves or a vehicle crash that involves driving off of the roadway down into a grove of trees for example. Low to steep angle rescues are the bread and butter of rope work.

So we have the rescue litter where our imaginary patient would be and we need to get them up the hill.

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We want to insure that the rope used to pull the litter up is secured correctly.

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Our next step is to elevate the rope off of the ground if possible as we want to keep our rope and system clean and minimize any friction that the ground would create. Trees are very handy for this if available but other structures or objects could suffice.

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Let's focus on this COD (change of direction) anchor. This is a variation of the wrap three, pull two anchor illustrated elsewhere. If the force will be applied downward as in this case, then more wraps and thus friction will be required to keep it in place. Here I've used a wrap four, pull one but any variation within reason will work. I easily could have used a wrap five, pull two here if my piece of webbing had been longer. Be mindful that a wrap three, pull two will not create enough friction in a case like this.

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Now I need to focus on finding an anchor on top of the hill and creating a haul system. Here I am using a telephone pole with a 3:1 haul system. Notice how long my throw (how far up the secondary moving pulley) is in relation to the base anchor. We always want to make this as long as possible to minimize resets of the system.

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As we pull the system will collapse until the pulleys are close to one another.

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At this point if the patient isn't to the top of the hill, then we would set the progress capture device(the prusik at the anchor) to eliminate the chance of the litter sliding backward and reset our throw. Grab the prusik of the traveling pulley and advance it as far as it will go.

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Then we are ready to haul again.

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Now we can also lower from the same set-up. Simply place a lowering device at the anchor and proceed down. Of course in a real situation there would be people manned at each station.

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Re: ffj's journal II Rope Rescue Technician

Post by DSKla » Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:16 pm

Moving soon to an area that would be S&R prime real estate, so I'll look into it--even though they probably do it so much that they take care of it in-house with pros.

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