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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.

Dalan Zartman is a technical-rescue curriculum subject-matter expert for the Ohio Emergency Management Agency and Department of Homeland Security. He has also taught more than 100 technical-rescue courses at Bowling Green State University, where he serves as regional training program director and advisory board member. Zartman is a member of and instructor for the Central Ohio Strike Team and the Washington Township Fire Department. He is a certified rescue instructor, rescue technician level II, fire instructor II, firefighter and EMT. Zartman is founder and president of Rescue Methods.

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