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Rope Rescue

200 Feet Down Rope Rescue

West Metro Fire Rescue Training & Event Center posted a unique and very successful tech rescue on their Facebook page. Checkout the video below.

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Tech Rescue

West Metro Fire Rescue Training & Event Center posted a unique and very successful tech rescue on their Facebook page.  Checkout the video below.

A 15-year-old falls into an old mine shaft, ending up some 200 feet below the surface. West Metro’s Technical Rescue Team, Golden Fire-Rescue and Alpine Rescue Team all worked together to safety pull the teen out. Here’s what this dangerous rescue was like, from the firefighter who was first in.

Rope Rescue

Pilot Rescued from Plane Crash

A plane crashed into the trees near the Gettysburg Regional Airport Saturday afternoon. The pilot, an 87-year-old local man, was not injured. The pilot experienced an engine failure and tried to return to the airport.

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Tech Rescue Team

When the photos below first made the rounds on Social Media Saturday, many responders wondered what the correct course of action should be to rescue the trapped pilot. Here’s the answer, get your Tech Rescue Team there!

A plane crashed into the trees near the Gettysburg Regional Airport Saturday afternoon. The pilot, an 87-year-old local man, was not injured. The pilot experienced an engine failure and tried to return to the airport.  The plane ended up in the trees about 50 feet off the ground. The man called police after the crash from his cell phone. The single-engine plane faced nose-down for about four hours while rescue officials figured out how to free the pilot, Shank said. The plane was in a stable setting and the pilot was alert, so there was no rush to get him out, he said.

“He was in very good spirits the whole time there,” he said. “He was conscious, alert and oriented the whole incident, which lasted almost four hours. I think by the end, he was a little anxious to get out, as we all were to get him out of the situation he was in.”

Police, who arrived on scene around 12:30 p.m., originally thought they would use a Maryland State Police helicopter to fly above the plane and send a man down with a cable to get the pilot out, Shank said. However, the wind from the helicopter could have made the plane too unstable, so they decided otherwise, he said.

Frederick County Advanced Technical Rescue, assisted by crews in York and Adams counties, used ladders to climb from the ground to the plane, Shank said. After cutting branches from around the plane down, rescue workers put the man in a sling and lowered him to the ground, he said.  Read the complete story here: The Evening Sun

Harrison Jones for the Evening Sun-York-County-ATR-Plane-Tree

Photo Credit: Harrison Jones for the Evening Sun

Harrison Jones for the Evening Sun

Photo Credit: Harrison Jones for the Evening Sun

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Rope Rescue

Tech Tips: Trying and Using Prusiks During Rope Rescue Operations

Applying a Prusik cord to ropes during rope rescue can be a frustrating endeavor if you are not proficient at tying them.

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Applying a Prusik cord to ropes during rope rescue can be a frustrating endeavor if you are not proficient at tying them. Lack of proficiency will dramatically slow down your operations when changing over from lowering to hauling or when building up your mechanical advantage systems. Having a victim and/or rescuer hanging on rope while waiting on you to tie the Prusik can feel like an eternity unless you practice and become fast and proficient.

An easy way to tie the Prusik onto a rope is to take the barrel knot of your Prusik and lay it on top of the rope you want to tie it onto. Roll the barrel knot around the rope 3 times, keeping the knot in contact with the rope the entire time. Once you complete three full wraps, take the barrel knot and offset it in one direction so it is not in the center. This will prevent the knot from being in direct contact with your carabiner or other attached device once it is dressed and set.

Once you’ve offset the knot, you can pull tension to tighten the loops onto the rope, making sure the loops are not crossing over one another and each loop is in direct contact with the rope all the way around. This will ensure you are getting maximal rope grab once the Prusik is set and loaded.

When adjusting the position of the Prusik on the rope, be sure to loosen it first before repositioning. Loosening it will make it easier to move as well as reduce the chance of burning the rope fibers of your main rope as well as the Prusik cord itself by reducing the amount of friction applied during repositioning.

If you are using the Prusik as a rope grab implement in a mechanical advantage system with a carabiner and pulley attached, an easy way to advance the Prusik to extend the system is to first loosen the Prusik then pull on the carabiner to advance your system while sliding the Prusik along the rope. Once it is advanced to the desired position, make sure the loops are still dressed properly and you can resume operations.

When using paired, or tandem, Prusiks within your rope system, make sure they are properly sized and equally grabbing the rope. If they are not properly sized, only one Prusik will be assuming the load while the other is adding no additional benefit. A properly sized pair of Prusiks should have about 2-3 inches in between them when they are properly set and loaded with both of them grabbing the rope.

We hope these tips on Prusik use help you in your rope rescue operations.

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Rope Rescue

5 Steps to Water Rope Rescues

Being skilled at throwing a rope bag is tools for a water rescuer to possess; here’s a look at how to improve rope throws

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It never fails. The victim is flying down river, we have rescuers spaced out on the shore, everyone is equipped with throw bags, and the first rescuer makes his throw; the bag goes completely off course and into the trees.

Throw bags are probably the most versatile and essential rescue device we have for swift water rescue. They are inexpensive, can be deployed from anywhere in the environment including watercraft, and they always give us one of the safest alternatives to effect a rescue.

There are three basic throwing positions: overhand, side arm and underhand.

An overhand throw mimics throwing a football or baseball. Hold the end of the rope in your off hand and throw the bag with your dominant throwing arm with an overhand motion. This position is ideal for short, precise throws.

You will not achieve great distances with the overhand but it is very accurate. It also enables throwers to be in the water, on the bank surrounded by ground covering and branches and on the watercraft.

Sling and pitch
The sidearm throw mimics throwing a disc. Hold the end of the rope in your off hand and throw the bag with your dominant throwing arm with a sidearm motion. This will achieve greater distances than the overhand and can also be delivered from difficult body positions.

It does, however, require more immediate room around the rescuer to make the throw and it is far less accurate. Sidearm throwing takes a great deal of practice and the arc of the bag leaving the rescuer becomes more lateral than vertical. This decreases the reliability of the rope landing across the victim.

An underhand throw mimics throwing a horseshoe. Hold the end of the rope in your off hand and throw the bag with your dominant throwing arm with an underhand motion. This throw requires the most room immediately around the rescuer but will achieve maximal distance and accuracy.

The key to success with these throwing techniques is practice, practice and more practice. Throwing can be routinely performed about anywhere, like the apparatus bay. You don't have to deploy the boats and don your dry suits to get in consistent throw bag practice.

Before applying these throwing techniques, review these five general principles of throw-bag rescues.

1. Be redundant
Always get two throw bags if you can. Having a backup bag will allow rescuers to redeploy a bag quickly and have an alternative bag if the primary washes downriver or gets entangled.

2. Prep the bags
When moving down the bank and into position, keep the drawstring on the bag cinched. This prevents the rope from getting snared or spilling out.

Once into position, loosen the drawstring completely. Pull the end of the rope out and grasp it firmly in the non-throwing hand. This end of the rope should be pre-rigged with a figure eight on a bite or other appropriate knot with a bite.

The bite should be large enough to fit your fingers into comfortably. Do not pass your hand through the bite and allow the bite to seat on your wrist. This action could result in the rescuer being pulled into the river.

Good throw bags will have an adjustable grab handle on the top of the bag. Fully adjust this handle out so that the rope will play freely out of the bag when thrown.

3. Coach the victim
As the victim approaches from upriver, communicate loud, early and clear. The universal command is to yell "rope" right before throwing the bag to the victim.

The first throw attempt should be made when the victim is upriver from the rescuer's position. This may allow the rescuer time to make a second attempt if the first throw misses the target. The target should be on line with the victim and beyond the victim.

Don't try to lead the victim. Throw bags will travel faster in the water than the victims, so you are better off being slightly behind the victim than in front of them. This target zone should result in the bag going over the victim and the rope landing across them or slightly up river from them.

Once the victim has the line, coach them to put the line over their inside shoulder — this is best communicated by using left or right commands. The inside shoulder technique creates a natural ferry angle for the victim and dramatically assists in bringing them to the bank.

Often, when victims don't do this and lock in the rope on the shoulder that is closest to the rescuer, they get pulled over into the prone position where take a face full of water and stay in an in-line body position in the water holding on for dear life.

4. Be prepared to tend
As soon as the throw bag leaves the rescuer's hand, the rescuer should pass the rope behind their lower back or rear end to body belay. The bite end of the rope should be in the up river hand of the rescuer and the rope going to the victim should be coming off the rescuer's down river hip.

It is also important to have other techniques depending on the environment. Strong currents may require the rescuer to sit down or even have a partner who sits down behind them to help anchor the line. When working in flood like conditions, the body belay may not be an option because rescuers may be throwing in chest deep water.

We often end up in water this deep bracing against trees to get to the main body of water in flood states. When faced with this challenge, use the trees as friction anchors instead of your body. Throw from a position on the upriver side of the tree. As soon as the victim receives the rope, bring the rope across the tree toward the bank and use the friction on the tree to control the rope.

5. Watch the rope, communicate downriver
If the entire rope is floating downriver, it must be communicated to downriver personnel. This is essential if watercrafts are positioned downriver.

Rope in the water and props do not mix and your watercraft will end up out of commission.

You can never have enough throwers. Position support personnel in optimal throw positions as close as possible to the victim as well as downriver. And always be prepared to deal with rescuers becoming victims. 

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