Rope Rescue Training: We Continue to Train!

Events certainly slowed down over the past year, but the BRSARA team has not stopped training. Today was a beautiful day to find a large semi-outdoor arena for rope rescue training, a system for rescuing those in hard-to-reach areas such as a deep embankment.

It is important to know these skills in order to set up a system for rescue that applies stringent safety measures, and methods that enable the team to have confidence in each other while responding efficiently and quickly under duress.

Dave and Becky, Rope Rescue Training Day; photo credit: Bruce Bumstead
Double Figure-Eight Knot

Our facilitators on Rope Rescue Practice are Dave and Becky, who ensure we have mastered the art of tying an assortment of knots used for different purposes. The figure-eight knot looks just as it sounds. I can be used to secure a rope around an object on a harness or anchor point. The butterfly knot creates a bi-directional loop at any point of a rope line not under tension. It is not just about knowing how to tie the knot, but also how to dress it properly so the knot’s integrity is secure.

Equipment protocols such as handling of the carabiner, paying attention to rope utility, and the use and care for pulley devices are covered. There are various types of haul systems that use pulley devices. One demonstration discussed the most effective way to utilize a single rope system to deploy responders down the slope, shuttle necessary equipment to the patient location and to utilize pulleys to create a mechanical advantage to retrieve the patient, responders and equipment safely. Every situation that a ground search and rescue team may encounter will be different, which means it is important to understand the variety of mechanisms and the best possible solution for retrieving a patient that may be in a difficult location. For instance, it is important to establish an anchor point that is “bomb proof,” and will be able to support and sustain the entire system, and the force required to operate it. Also, knowing when a mechanical advantage is needed effects whether these devices are used for a 2:1 or a 3:1 hauling system.

Practicing the Figure-Eight Knot; photo credit: Bruce Bumstead

In a rescue, a team works together not only to perform the roles, but also to ensure we keep ourselves safe. Safety checks are done to ensure rope and equipment integrity on every team member tied into the system. Trusting that we know our individual skills, we must have confidence once we have committed to our role in this process. Somebody takes the lead as first responder to the patient. Another person is the safety guide, overseeing the security of all equipment and protocols. One person monitors and maintains the belay device, and another the load bearing device. And when the patient is packaged and ready to come back up, there needs to be one or more team members to pull and reset the haul system.

These are only a few of the details that came out of our training session today, we learned so much more! I encourage our BRSARA team members to continue practicing with knots and observing your environments for ways to apply this knowledge.

I am proud of our team for trusting each other to do the work. Practice your skills and be ready for the climb!

Prusik Cords can be manipulated along the rope line and will grab and hold if pulled; photo credit: Bruce Bumstead

Gallery of Images from Rope Rescue Training Day:

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