Advancing Vertical Rescue in Australia: A Worldwide Fact Finding Report
In 2014 Scott Young received The David Balfour Churchill Fellowship to “advance fire fighter safety by studying overseas developments in the vertical rescue industry”
Essentially, he was given the funding and support to travel the world and study the best elements of vertical rescue around the globe. He spent time in the US, Belgium, Japan, UK and France learning from the best practitioners.
He was kind enough to provide to us his complete report which is available to download and read:
Here is the introduction and Table of Contents
Vertical rescue in its simplest form is a transportation challenge that requires moving a casualty
safely from point A to B out of a hazardous situation using rigging and ropes. In practical
application, it is much more complex and requires significant training and experience, due to the
ever present danger of gravity. This Fellowship aimed to advance capacity in vertical rescue to
help bring about safer and more efficient operations and training within Australia.
This aim was pursued with targeted and detailed interviews with leading international rescue
organisations including the Tokyo Fire Department, Chamonix police mountain rescue, and the
New York Fire Department. Individuals with renowned expertise and influence in this area were
also contacted to provide their insights and opinions. Among them are Mr Tom Pendley, Mr Reed
Thorne, Mr Mike Gibbs, and Mr Kirk Mauthner. Finally, I attended advanced level and highly
specialised vertical rescue courses with Rigging for Rescue, Ropes that Rescue, and Lyon Work
and Rescue. This report will detail the numerous lessons learnt and potential advancements for
the Australian vertical rescue industry.
2. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
This Fellowship aimed to advance knowledge in the discipline of vertical rescue in Australia. By
bringing home ideas and best practice from around the world, it is hoped that vertical rescue
practice in Australia will be safer and more efficient for both rescuers and casualties.
I visited numerous organisations across Japan, UK, France and the USA, and participated in three
specialist courses in the UK and USA. The variations between organizations were vast, and
comparisons difficult. However by accessing the different ideas and sources of information, I was
able to identify a number of valuable findings.
The most significant technical finding was the shift towards twin tensioned rope techniques
(“TTRS”). Based on my 10 years experience as a vertical rescue operator and research conducted
during this Fellowship, I agree that TTRS is the future direction for vertical rescue, which will
only become more popular as equipment advances develop to complement this technique.
Other findings include the need to improve communication across the industry. This is crucial to
providing a modern, safe, consistent and professional vertical rescue capability Australia wide.
Conferences such as International Technical Rescue Symposium (ITRS), competitions such as
Grimp Day, and websites such as the Alpine Near Miss Survey (ANMS) are all good examples of
how information and ideas sharing could be improved in Australia.
There were many equipment discoveries and alternatives to existing tools and devices, and not all
were worthy of a change from what currently is in use. Some that were worthy of change
however include the CMC Multi Purpose Device (“MPD”), new Petzl ASAP 2, and Kask Super
Plasma Helmet combined with the Petzl Pixa 3 head torch.
Vertical rescue training needs significant resources, and is often mistakenly considered a one off
expense. If an organisation is legislated to provide a vertical rescue service to the community then
they must commit to regular training, with full refresher courses at least once every four years for
all operators to keep qualifications current, and work practices safe. The Greater Manchester Fire
Brigade training and skills maintenance structure would be a good template to consider. Four, one
week courses with a minimum twelve month break to help consolidate skills, would ensure skill
Disseminating these findings will be achieved through my role as a vertical rescue instructor and
by engaging rescue organisations and training providers around Australia. I aim to submit articles
to industry magazines, create a vertical rescue blog at www.roperescue.net, and actively assist
climbing, mountaineering, outdoor and adventure groups in training.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
2. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
5. BACKGROUND TO RESEARCH
- I. WHAT IS VERTICAL RESCUE?
- II. STATUS OF VERTICAL RESCUE IN AUSTRALIA
- III. WHY IS THIS RESEARCH NECESSARY?
- IV. RESEARCH METHODS
6. OVERVIEW OF ORGANISATIONS VISITED
- I. TOKYO FIRE DEPARTMENT, JAPAN(“TFD”)
- II. GRIMP DAY ROPE RESCUE COMPETITION, BELGIUM
- III. GREATER MANCHESTER FIRE BRIGADE
- IV. LYON WORK & RESCUE TRAINING COMPANY, UK
- V. PARIS FIRE DEPARTMENT, FRANCE
- VI. CHAMONIX MOUNTAIN RESCUE (PGHM), FRANCE
- VII. PETZL HEADQUARTERS / EQUIPMENT FACTORY, FRANCE
- VIII. NEW YORK FIRE DEPARTMENT (NYFD), USA
- IX. DESERT RESCUE RESEARCH (TOM PENDLEY), ARIZONA, USA
- X. ROPES THAT RESCUE (REED THORNE), ARTIFICIAL HIGH DIRECTIONAL, ARIZONA, USA
- XI. RIGGING FOR RESCUE (MIKEGIBBS), ADVANCED SKILLS / SPECIALTY TECHNIQUES COURSE,COLORADO, USA
7. RESEARCH FINDINGS
I. RESEARCH FINDINGS – TECHNIQUES
- A. TWIN TENSION ROPE SYSTEMS (TTRS) (ALSO CALLED MIRRORED SYSTEMS)
- B. TWO ROPE OFFSET HIGHLINE OVER KOOTENAY HIGHLINE
- C. REMOVING ALL CRITICAL POINTS FROM A RESCUE SYSTEM
- D. REMOVE ALL ‘SELF EQUALIZING’ ANCHORS FROM CURRICULUM
- E. PURCELL PRUSIK TIE IN
II. RESEARCH FINDINGS -‐ EQUIPMENT
III. RESEARCH FINDINGS -‐ TRAINING
- A. IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS
- B. RECOMMENDED COURSE STRUCTURE
IV. RESEARCH FINDINGS -‐ INFORMATION SHARING
- A. INTERNATIONAL TECHNICAL RESCUE SYMPOSIUM (ITRS)
- B. ROPE RESCUE COMPETITIONS
- C. ACCIDENT AND NEAR MISS RECORDING WEBSITE
- D. ROPE RESCUE BLOG – WWW.ROPERESCUE.NET
9. SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS
10. DISSEMINATION OF FINDINGS
11. SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION
13. APPENDIX 1: MIRRORED SYSTEMS WITH MPD(TTRS)
14. APPENDIX2: CRITICISMS AND COUNTER CRITICISMS TO TTRS
Download the full report here: