From Rescuer to Swimmer


Ronin was recently contacted regarding confined space rescue standby for a large water reservoir measuring 100 feet high and 40 feet in diameter. Our client indicated they preferred putting staff into the water to clean the space as it was drained. With this information Ronin began looking at confined space and water rescue options in addition to safe work procedures for the project (all of which Ronin can provide). Ronin was eventually asked if we could provide not only the rescue standby but also all required documentation and the swimmers to clean the tank. Always up for challenges, we said yes!

The project started with our CRSP performing a site inspection and creating the hazard assessment, entry procedures, safe work procedures including the use of chlorine, decontamination and lock out. One of our rescue technicians assisted by creating the rescue plan, taking into account any concerns regarding confined space, fall protection, high angle and the 8 degree Celsius water.

Once the documentation was complete we gathered our team and reviewed the documentation. We also “game planned” a few “what if” scenarios regarding both rescue (regular work for us) and swimming around the inside of a water reservoir with brooms (not so regular for us).

Our members entered the space wearing dry suits, protective boots, fins, PFD’s, masks, gloves, neoprene balaclavas and sitting in belly boats. They used medium bristle brooms to remove the “film” off of the walls. We found the team of two could continually “lap” the reservoir and effectively clean at the discharge flow rate. Once the water in the reservoir reached a pre-designated level we removed the staff and sucked the remaining water out. We then went back into the reservoir to finish the cleaning. Once the cleaning was complete we utilized chlorine to disinfect the tank as per AWWA Method 2.

We swapped the swimmers out on a regular basis as an administrative control for fatigue and cold exposure. The external crew was responsible for site first aid, rescue standby, and disinfection of gear that entered and decontamination of gear that left the space. We used 12.5mm static kernmantle rope for fall protection while staff where climbing any ladders or in the space when required. For the rescue standby gear we used 11.1mm static kernmantle rope with the Arizona Vortex as our high point.

This job was interesting as we provided all the required services ranging from the preplanning stage, documentation, completing the required job tasks and ensuring the safety of all workers by providing first aid and rescue standby.

This is exactly what Ronin is all about, providing full service solutions to our clients.
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