Well this year was Ronin’s fifth year at GRIMP Day. Really, it is hard to believe.
We have met so many great people in and out of the rescue community that we now call friends worldwide. Preparing and competing in GRIMP keeps our staff current on updated rescue procedures and well trained in the execution of rescues. It also provides them with new ideas about training scenarios for students. I still get excited as I did year one to compete at GRIMP. Bottom line up front – we still find it the top rope rescue event in the world! With the number of scenarios, the time limits, the problem solving required (not just with ropes), we have yet to find a comparable competition.
Our internal training has enabled us to get more and more points every year. This year for rigging we only lost 7 points over the 10 events. Four of those points were lost due to one incident (more on that below). We are still losing points on speed however – or, should I term it, have no tbeen gaining the same number of points the European teams gain for speed. This is one area we as North Americans need to step up our game. It’s the old saying – a good plan executed now is better than a perfect plan executed later. With half of the Ronin team members being first timers this year, I am extremely proud of the training (especially the standardization) and the team members. To gain the same amount of points as the previous year’s team with half new staff speaks highly of the training staff and the caliber of the rescuers.
There are rumors in the company of a Ronin East and Ronin West Team next year – we shall see!
GRIMP Day 2017 was an Urban Edition this year. 30 teams registered and 29 competed at the event. We had five scenarios per day in the city (both Jambes and Namur). The highlight of the locations was certainly the St. Aubin Cathedral. What a location to perform rope rescue! We had one scenario (lower a patient, team rappels out, pull anchors) out of the bell tower and one scenario (rescue from ascent on SRT) in the sanctuary of the Cathedral itself. The ten scenarios overall were challenging and required a mixed bag of rigging skills.
As we have now had five years of using equipment at this event, it is a good time to go over the pros and cons of much of this gear.
Arc Teryx has been with us from year one and is still supporting us today. We use Arc T’s packs and uniforms extensively during this event. For the packs, we have been using the Khard 45’s. These packs have done an amazing service for our team. As you can read in other posts by us we use this pack as a rope bag (100 meters of rope inside) with slings and other rigging stuffed in the outside and top pockets. We rappel, run, climb, etc with this pack on. We lower it down cliffs and man-made structures. We have never had a pack come apart! Based on our abuse that is worth noting. We have torn two packs, however the material ensured the tear did not run (we used gorilla tape to mend it). We have pulled the stitching out of one of the shoulder straps on one pack. We have pulled off a zipper tab on another. In 5 years of using the packs as carry on or checked luggage, then running around Europe with it, then using it for rescue both in Europe and Canada, that’s the extent of the damage. Well done!
We did take one pack this last year and removed the waist belt (the new assault pack which has replaced the Khard has a removable waist belt so cutting off a waist belt is no longer required) and put two grommets in the bottom of it. One grommet is for drainage (at the bottom of the pack), the other is to allow access to the other end of the rope (located at the front bottom of the pack). Not a common use we understand, however we are not a common user group. We found the rope grommet hole was useful for grabbing both ends of the rope in order to rig lines or use the rope for fall/edge protection. We were dry this year so didn’t get to use the drain much…
As for the clothing, it has for the most part also been great to use. We have worn the Drac and now the Assault Pant AR in wolf for the competition. My Dracs (cotton version) are still going strong after 5 years. I prefer the fit of the Assault Pant more than the Drac, however wish they left the ankle pockets on the Assault Pant. We find it useful for knives, energy gels (read Nutella), etc. when we are wearing a harness. The other nice improvement is the knee pads. The current foam pad in the knee of the Assault Pant, while lighter weight them the older pair, is all we needed for our use (you can add on the older style knee pad if needed). Unless you are in some serious sharp and unforgiving terrain, these new knee pads are all you will need. We are on rock and structure all day and have had no problems with the new knee pads.
We have used different assault shirts over the years and the current version is the best yet. At first, we called it the rescue tuxedo, however once we started wearing it, well it became like a pair of PJ’s. We like the mandarin collar to limit the chaffing of our harnesses. The foam elbow pads are also a nice touch and practical. We used the Arc Word Heavy Weight T shirt as our competition T shirt this year. Great quality shirt; they did not stretch out with use and surprisingly for me – I didn’t put any holes in it.
Our one question with Arc Teryx is why did they remove the soft-shell products from the LEAF line? We could really use a soft shell in the rescue environment and many of our team are still using the LEAF Drac Jacket. It is a great jacket for our use. It fits big (it was likely designed to go over armour) but this is a plus for us – we can wear it over or under our harnesses. It is slim in the arms, where we need it.
Wiivv insoles were a great product. I used them last year in my Vans for GRIMP Day. They were comfortable and my feet did not have arch cramps or the like while using them. When I removed them about 6 months after GRIMP Day last year to inspect my gear they were in pieces. Quite literally busted in multiple places. I tried to get a hold of Wiivv but to no avail. They market these as high performance athletic insoles and I destroyed them in 6 months. I don’t know if that is a usual time frame or not. Just saying.
Footwear – Vans and Arc Teryx
Arc Teryx – I wore a pair of Acrux FL Approach shoes this year while helocasting in Germany prior to GRIMP Day this year. No issues with the fit of the shoes, they have been great in that aspect. Comfortable, solid footwear; they are my go to approach shoes. My issue is with trying to dry them out. While you can get the insole out, the liner is not removable. I tried using hair dryers (gotta love hotels), sunlight, leaving them on the dash of the car while driving the autobahn – to dry them out. With not being able to remove the liner it took a few days to dry these shoes. That time delay of course has assisted with producing quite the smell in them at this point. The Enz River in Germany was not the cleanest to jump into and now I have a little bit of Germany in my shoes at home – growing….
Vans – I ordered a custom pair of orange and black “rescue” Vans Old Skool High Top Skate Shoes last year for the competition. I wore them for the training and competition last year and the training and competition this year (I have also worn them in other locations I can get away with). As crazy as it sounds, I love them. This year was an urban edition where we were mostly on man-made structures. With the Vans I can feel the surface under my feet and identify trip hazards or other edges. The shoes are “soft” on the old limestone walls of the castles and towers as well as metal grating providing me with a better feel on the surface of the structure while rappelling or rigging. They are not good in mud however. Once you get some mud in the tread, while in the mud – you don’t need a skateboard to slide down hill.
Plastic gear hooks
I mentioned above that we had lost 4 points on one scenario. That scenario was a tower lower, down the caged ladder, with an attendant. One of our attendant’s plastic Petzl gear hook (and granted they are not made for this) caught on the ladder cage and broke. This led to 4 slings falling to the ground and cost us 4 points. A big take away for us here is don’t cheap out. The plastic hooks have their place, but buy metal gear hooks when working in industry.
PMI has graciously provided us with two of the PMI Extreme Pro Unicore ropes for the competition each year. This rope has become our go to rope at Ronin. It is durable, strong, has a nice hand and unties easily when loaded. We have used the rope at GRIMP for everything from highlines to 100 meter lowers. We have used it in ID’s. MPD’s, Sparrows, D4’s, Totem’s and the odd Reverso / ATC Guide. It has performed above expectations. We now use it in the majority of our rescue rigging kits at Ronin. With Ronin, it is primarily used for confined space rescue work and rope rescue courses. It has been flawless in this regard.
CMC MPD and Petzl ID
I constantly go back and forth between the MPD and ID as a go to device on GRIMP Day. Each team member carries both on GRIMP Day and they both get used. We use the ID primarily for rappelling and the MPD primarily for lowering and highlines. While the ID can be used in these circumstances (highlines and lowering), as a team we keep reaching for the MPD. The MPD works better with larger loads then the ID however does take two people in order to operate the MPD in a TTRS (where you can shark fin the ID’s and use one operator). Even with this we just seem to have a more positive control of the load on a long lower with the MPD. For highlines, the MPD is unstoppable. With the high efficiency pulley it allows one to tighten and loosen the track lines very easily. As a team, we often do this with one rescuer for both track lines (one at a time). The MPD does suck for rappelling with however – that is one area the ID has it beat.
Petzl Avao Bod Croll Fas Harness
With teams from around the world attending GRIMP Day you expect to see a multitude of harnesses – and you do. The harness you see the most of however is the Avao. That should say a lot right there. Teams going to GRIMP are often sponsored and have the ability to use whatever they want. The majority use the Avao. While I personally liked the fit of the Navajo better and find that the buckles do slip on the Avao – it is still the best harness on the market that I have worn at this time. It fits the best, has gear loops in the right places and with the built in croll it requires just that little bit less effort to ascend rope.
We hauled a Cascade Rescue Advance Series Model 200 Rescue Litter over to Europe on year two of GRIMP. It currently lives in a friend’s garage in Belgium during the off season. We have used it for 4 GRIMP Days, 16 days of hard practice prior to GRIMP Day and one week long confined space course we taught in Europe. While this might not seem like much, just during GRIMP Day competitions this stretcher has been used in 40 rope rescue scenarios. This stretcher is a winner. We have abused it (for instance flipping it over and using it as a high point to keep our ropes out of the mud on a highline scenario where we did not have a high point), hauled gear in it, strapped it to cars and driven across Belgium and Germany, dragged it up walls, etc. It is light weight, durable and still 100% functional and will be used next year.
Rock Exotica Carabiners and Omni Block Swivel Pulleys
Pulleys – This is another one of the proof is obtained by looking around items. Teams worldwide show up and what are still the best pulleys out there – the Rock Exotica Omni Block Swivel Pulleys. At GRIMP they have a concern with using a double pulley with both lines through it as a high point without backing it up (as it is viewed as non-redundant due to the pin) however even with that caveat, at least half the teams are still using them. Many of our Rock pulleys have been with us since day one of GRIMP and they are still working like they were brand new. Touch wood – we have yet to break a Rock Omni block swivel pulley at Ronin.
Carabiners – Our team primarily uses the Rock D auto lock or the Rock Pirate (both auto lock and Orca) for competition. We have also moved towards the Rock D auto lock for all of our carabiners at Ronin (as they need to be replaced). We use the Orca locks for rigging (when you need to pull towards you) and the Rock D’s for other applications (when you are also pulling towards you – see a trend here). Our team likes the feel and weight of the carabiners and as a company we are not breaking them any faster than any other carabiners in our kits. We do find that when we do “break” them it is often an issue with the auto lock gate.
Camp Helmets and Gloves
We wore the Camp Titan helmets this year. While this is a rock climbing style helmet, we were amazed at the comfort. Most rock climbing helmets I have worn hurt my head after a few hours. We wore these for up to 12 hours per day with no complaints. For context, we burn through helmets. We have used a multitude and are very picky about how it sits on our head (center of gravity) and how it obstructs our work in technical rescue (edges sticking out) and how the chin strap rubs the chin. This helmet is light weight, comfortable and strong. Really a good product. We had Camp gloves last year and while they are good, I still prefer my PMI Rope Tech Gloves gloves due to the dexterity. Yes, my hand heats up while rappelling quicker with the PMI gloves, however I am one that choses dexterity first.
So that is the list. While we have used other gear, these are the key items we use. Stay tuned to see how our gear and teams fair at next year’s GRIMP Day.
The Petzl Rope Trip is everything you would expect from Petzl. Having attended GRIMP Day in the past and seeing the type of event Petzl can put on, we were not disappointed with the Rope Trip.
This event is held every two years and this version on April 1 – 4, 2016 in SLC, Utah was only the third edition (the first event being held in France and the second in Sweden). The Rope Trip is a direct take off from Petzl’s RocTrip however specifically for the pro side of the business. It is interesting to note the strides the pro side (access, rescue, etc) has made in the past 8 or 10 years. For companies such as Petzl who used to depend on the recreation side to help support the pro side of the business, it is now pretty much flipped around – the pro side is the foundation.
The Rope Trip event consists of 31 teams, each with 3 members. This year there were teams from 16 countries competing including the USA, Canada, Germany, Poland, Russia, France, Austria, Columbia, Sweden, UK, Finland, Taiwan, Singapore, Mexico, Spain and Switzerland. In the preliminaries, each member has to complete an individual event and the team completes one team event.
The SPRAT conference this year was held in conjunction with the Petzl Rope Trip and I am sure Salt Lake City, Utah didn’t know what hit it. Rope Access Technicians from 17 different countries were in attendance at both events.
The SPRAT conference took place on the Thursday and Friday (with other committee meetings and evaluator standardization occurring earlier in the week). Day 1 of the conference had different committee meetings. If you have ever sat on any committees or gone to organizational meetings – well this is pretty much the same. It was great however to see some of the proposed upcoming changes to the way SPRAT operates. There were some very active debates around level 2 and level 3 supervisory roles on site as well as required hours and training to obtain each level (don’t worry nothing has changed….yet). As the society grows more changes will occur as SPRAT works to meet the demands of its membership. It is interesting to note that SPRAT is still a consensus based organization. As such, with the growth there are barriers to speedy changes. Should consensus be maintained among the members however it will create codes of practice that are universally accepted.
During last year’s GRIMP Day competition I met Jay Chen who had come to Belgium to visit us. He is the owner of a company called AIRAS, providing training for rope access workers and rescue teams in Asia.
Jay had already organized one rescue challenge in Taiwan called Ch’iao (The bridge ). He asked me to join him and his team for the second edition held this month.
This event takes place in the middle of Taiwan, in the mountains. The concept is to use bridges to provide a sense of elevation.
The Ch’iao event is held across two days.
The first day is an 100 m ascend race competition . You have to climb (attached with your buddy ) and pass knots (one on each work rope ). This race is an open race to all ropes access specialists (tree climbers, rope access workers, firefighters and rescue personnel).
I participated in this race along with my partner Damien of Petzl Asia. It was physical! Your equipment has to be prepared and you have to have excellent coordination with your teammate. It was a very good experience ! ! !
The second day was devoted to the rescue. 4 tests were organized.
Test 1 : The same location as the 100 m ascend competition. The teams had to rescue a patient from the bottom of the valley back up to the bridge.
Test 2 : One patient was hanging on the bridge cables. The mission was to access the victim and then have him descend to a secure area.
Test 3 : One patient is laying in the riverbed. Bring him back up to the bridge.
Test 4 : An intervention for a patient hanging on a highline.
In my opinion, Jay and his team have done a wonderful job! This was a fantastic event with excellent organization. 11 teams took part in Ch’iao (10 from Taiwan and 1 from Hong Kong ).
Participants were very interested in engaging other teams to exchange techniques and experience.
Ch’iao has a very nice future and I hope to see teams coming from all over the world for the next edition.
In the mid 2000’s, a friend of mine told me to check out GRIMP Day on YouTube. I watched the few videos about this event that were posted at the time – and was instantly hooked. A day dedicated to competing with some of the best rescue teams from around the world. And in Europe to boot! Who would not want to attend this! From that point forward one of my tertiary goals was to field a team.
In 2013, we managed to make our dream of putting together a team at GRIMP a reality.
First, let me discuss what GRIMP Day is. GRIMP Day is a daylong technical rope rescue competition (although it was two days long in 2015 for the 10-year anniversary). It is held in Namur, Belgium, every year and is hosted by the Pompiers du Namur. Each team needs to provide a 5-person rescue team, a patient and an evaluator, all with their own gear (including team gear). Xavier (Namur FD and the organizer) and his staff get creative each year and produce 6 events – to be completed in the day – that even have veteran teams scratching their heads.
- Rescuing a 300kg fake horse out of the river
- Lead climbing under a bridge to pull a “patient” off of the trusses and skate block them back to shore
- Rescuing a “patient” from a slack line
- Sites with limited anchors, and for the most part – with the live patient we have to provide.
Each year at least 30 teams from around the world (France, Switzerland, the UK, Ireland, Russia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Brazil to name a few) attend and compete with each other. We would be, in 2013 (and still are after competing for three years), the only Canadian and North American team to ever compete.
We have been lucky enough at Ronin Safety and Rescue to use some of the best gear in the world for our rescue work. So when Arc’ Teryx introduced the Khard, we had to pick one up to give it a whirl.
Some disclaimers to start. We sell gear (not Arc’ Teryx) and our GRIMP Team is sponsored by Arc’ Teryx. We have used Conterra, CamelBak, TAD and other high-end packs for rescue. We have however never shied away from telling “it as it is” when it comes to our gear. As our teams have worked around the world (including conflict zones) and in very remote locations (the most Northern civilian settlement in Canada for instance) our moto for gear is “It absolutely must work!”
The Khard 45 is a 45 litre, 2 pound pack designed in Arc’ Teryx’s LEAF line. It has Velcro inside the pack to add an assortment of gear pouches and opens fully to allow for easy retrieval of equipment. It has the usual chest and waist straps that are common to all packs.
When I first grabbed the pack – I was concerned. The webbing loops and fastex buckles were smaller then the rescue bags I am used to using. The shoulder straps were thinner. I assumed smaller equaled lesser quality or at least lesser durability. I was wrong! The pack was designed with weight in mind. All “extra” size and bulk was removed to lighten the pack. That they have done. My TAD Fast Pack Lightspeed weights 3.5 pounds (21L pack) and my CamelBak BFM comes in at 6.1 pounds (both good packs as well – more on them in the next blogs). While this may not seem like much, I pack a lot in my bags. To start with 4 pounds less is a bonus.
As stated we use our packs for rescue. My Khard carries:
- 200’ of 11mm static rope, a rope tarp
- Two edge protection sleeves
- One SMC rope tracker
- One edge bot
- One MP
- One ASAP
- One Kong Back up
- Four prussic
- Thirty feet of 8mm cordage
- Six pulleys
- Ten carabineers
- Two rigging plates
- An Absorbica
- Two soft anchor slings
- A cable anchor sling
All of this adds up to approximately 40 pounds of gear.
The Khard carries this load well. I am not just talking about carrying this load on my back for wilderness rescue (although the Khard does that well). I often clip onto the handle on the bag and strap it via a sling to my harness so it hangs between my legs while I climb tower cranes. These cranes are between 150’ – 300’ high. The bag bounces off of and catches on ladder edges, platforms and grating. It has not torn or ripped apart. Then the bag gets tossed on dirty, greasy platforms while I open it up in the pouring rain and pull gear out.
The other industrial settings I have used this bag in include concrete manufacturing plants, confined spaces and coal plants. Really quite nasty environments on gear. So far it has held up exceptionally well. So well in fact we are buying two more for our GRIMP Team to use this year (an update will be added to the blog after GRIMP). The pack is also stylish enough that I can leave my rescue gear in lock up and use it as a travel pack around town.
Oh, and just a FYI – apparently the Khard 60 will be out soon.
On Long Lowers: A Discussion Paper
Written by Kevin Ristau
At suspension heights of over 30 metres, it becomes increasingly difficult to operate Belay Control Devices (BCD). The weight of the rope, wind loading, and operator fatigue must be overcome in order to operate a BCD properly.
When a load is transferred from one rope to the other, the load will apply a force to the belay rope that is relative to its mass and velocity, and this force will stretch the rope. The current recommended best practice from the International Technical Rescue Symposium (ITRS) is that a 10% allowance must be made for rope stretch before the belay system arrests a fall due to a failure in the mainline. At 30 metres, this can contribute 3 metes to the Total Fall Distance (TFD). Given a Tower Crane elevation of 196 metres (Port Mann Bridge replacement), we must consider the possibility that a failure of the mainline during the last 20 metres of the lowering operation will result in a ground strike. This is exclusive of any dynamic forces caused by slack in the belay rope or anchor system stretch.
It is desirable to maintain as much control of the rescue load at all times as possible. Therefore minimizing movement of the load during a mainline failure at any time, not just when within ground strike potential, should be the goal of any belay system.
The recommended system for lowering at elevations greater than 30 metres is the two-tensioned rope lower. Twinned lowering systems share the load between two ropes and descent control devices, pre-tensioning each system to take up as much stretch as possible.
The combination of descent control devices and belay control devices on each line limits potentially unsafe Total Fall Distance by sharing the load between both ropes.
The use of a Descent Control Device (DCD) to tension the safety line prevents the weight of the rope from locking up the Belay Control Device (BCD), and allows the BCD to be properly operated. This also prevents any slack developing in the belay system and minimizes rope stretch in the event of a mainline failure.
No system can remove all of the rope stretch. The goal is to reduce Total Fall Distance (TFD) and rope stretch as much as possible to provide the greatest margin of safety.
Rope stretch on a non-tensioned line, with no slack in the system, is a factor of the Universal Spring Constant, which is a force of 2.5 times the load when using rescue rope.
A rescue load of 280kg, which imparts a force of 2.8kN when hanging statically on a rope, will impart a force of 7kN on a taut, non-tensioned belay line upon failure of the mainline.
280 kg mass, 0 cm drop, on 30 m of rope (12.5mm PMI EZ Bend), results in 1.9 metres of extension (6.3% stretch) with a 6.1kN MAF (Maximum Arrest Force, measured at the anchor).
This represents the absolute minimum amount of rope stretch possible with current two-rope rescue systems, where the belay line is not tensioned and there is no free fall. Any slack in the belay system will create free fall. Free Fall is a dynamic event that will increase the force impacting the belay line, and therefore increase TFD, rope stretch, and MAF. Rope stretch will increase proportional to the amount of slack in the belay line and the dynamic movement of the load. Allowance must also be made for any Energy Absorber Extension – if used , also known as Deceleration Distance (DD), when calculating TFD if your system uses energy absorbers.
In the case of long lowers (greater than 30m) rope stretch becomes unmanageable, and this is when the use of the two line tensioned lower becomes practicable. By transitioning to a twinned system, where the main and belay lines mirror each other, the rope stretch potential in the event of a failure of either line is minimized. Each line shares the load equally and is pre-tensioned, minimizing the amount of rope stretch that will occur in the event of a failure of either line.
Adoption of a Two Tensioned Rope Lower System:
Accomplishing a two tensioned rope lower does not require a prohibitive amount of training. The primary procedure changes to a “usual” untensioned belay line system are:
- Master Attachment Point (MAP)
- Selection of DCD + BCD Combination (or MPD)
- Transition to a Two Tensioned Rope Lower
The transition to a two tensioned rope lower system usually occurs at around 30 metres of rope in service. The lowering operation must be halted to transition the system, and the amount of time this takes must be considered as part of the risk benefit analysis. Transitioning to the two tensioned system on a shorter lower would unnecessarily lengthen the time taken to lower the patient package to the ground, without significantly lessening the risk of ground strike (remember, the amount of rope stretch is proportional to the amount of rope in service).
At height greater than 30 metres, there is a dual benefit to transitioning to a two tensioned rope lower system, as not only do we minimize rope stretch, but we also make the system easier to manage, reducing, and likely eliminating, the number of times that we lock up the belay device and therefore minimizing the amount of time that the patient package is suspended.
The use of the MPD in the system allows us to transition much sooner, as there is no halting of the lowering operation to accomplish a TTRL.
Master Attachment Point (MAP)
The method of patient and rescuer attachment must utilize a MAP to accommodate the distribution of the load between the two ropes. Creating a redundant, master point of attachment for the load allows a combined patient and rescuer tie in. This in turn prevents patient and rescuer separation in the event of the catastrophic failure of either of the ropes. Using a MAP for a single rescuer load allows for greater rescuer comfort, as it allows the rescuer to determine their weight distribution.
Utilizing a single method of attaching rescue loads, with or without a litter (such as when performing pickoffs or line transfers) would simplify training and skills maintenance.
Interlocking long tailed bowlines create a simple, redundant MAP that does not require any hardware, provides two separate attachment tails, and can accommodate a three way pull. It is simple and quick to tie, and is versatile. Use of this knot allows any system to be set up very quickly, as one team member can tie the knot and create the MAP using no hardware and without having to know exactly what will be suspended. The loop created can have multiple attachments clipped into it, and the two long tails can be used for attendant and patient tie-ins. Caution must be taken to ensure clipping of both main and belay line loops to achieve redundancy.
A Rigging ring or rigging plate can also be used for the MAP. The primary drawback of using a rigging ring is the amount of carabiners utilized in attaching the load.
Long tailed interlocking bowlines. This method of MAP allows the tension to be shared or transferred between the main and belay lines without affecting the rescue load below the knot. (Kevin Ristau photo)
Selection of DCD + BCD Combination, & Transition
The MPD can be used as both a BCD that meets the BCDTM and a DCD. In fact, using the MPD simplifies the operation as both lines are mirror images of each other, and transitioning can be accomplished without halting the lowering operation.
The load is first belayed over the edge with an un-tensioned belay line. Once the rescuer is clear of the edge and has control of the load, at approximately 10 metres, the belay line is allowed to come under tension and the operator engages the release handle on the MPD. The load is then lowered equally between the two lines. With two MPD, we can achieve a true mirrored system.
TPB in front of Brake Rack
Probably the most versatile system is where a TPB (with LRH) is added in front of the brake rack on the load line, and a brake rack is added behind the TPB on the belay line. Again, this creates a mirrored system where either line can become the belay line or the load line if there is a need to transition back to a single rope tensioned system.
Operation of the TPB needs to be modified somewhat, as the operator will not be able to create the usual 90 degree bend in the rope due to the tension in the line. Care must be taken to avoid an encircling grip, and operate the prussiks using a “scissored fingers” technique, holding the prussiks back just enough to allow the rope through.
The system is transitioned to a Two Tensioned Rope Lower after the patient and rescuer are clear of the edge and any obstacles. Once the rescuer is comfortable with the line of descent and has control of the load, the system can be transitioned.
The lowering operation is halted and a brake rack is inserted behind the tandem prussik on the belay line. A TPB is added in front of the brake rack on the main line in order to provide a hands free backup to the DCD.
The two ropes are now mirrored, and the lowering operation is continued with the operators simultaneously lowering on both ropes while minding the tandem prussiks. Knot passing and transferring of tension can be accomplished quickly and efficiently as a TPB with Load Releasing Hitch (LRH) is already part of the system on each rope.
The potential for rescues at height is increasing. More high-rise construction also means more high-rise maintenance.
Any organization that has a potential for rope rescues at heights of greater than 30 metres needs to evaluate its systems and select a method to deal with the issues of long lowers. Nobody wants to have a patient hanging in the basket while the rescue team attempts to un-cluster a poor system choice mid-rescue.
The two tensioned rope lower system is far safer and more manageable than a standard two-rope system for long lowers. It has been our experience that the two-tensioned rope system is easily taught and readily accepted by rope rescue personnel.
It is important that we continually re-evaluate our systems to ensure that they are safe, effective, and in line with evolving rope rescue technique.
Gibbs, M and Mauthner, K, (1996), Seminar Notes, Rigging for Rescue
Gibbs, Mike, (2007) Rescue Belays, Important considerations for Long Lowers, Rigging for Rescue, Int. Technical Rescue Symposium
Brown, Mike, (2000), Engineering Practical Rope Rescue Systems,
Lipke, M, (2009), Technical Rescue Riggers Guide, Second Edition,
On Rope, New Revised Edition, by Bruce Smith and Allen Padgett, National Speleological Society,1996
Attachment Disorder, Fire Rescue Magazine, 10/2006, Mark Denvir
CSA Z259.16,Design of active fall-protection systems
NFPA 1006, Standard for Rescue Technician Professional Qualifications
NFPA 1670, Standard on Operations and Training for Technical Search and Rescue Incidents
NFPA 1983, Standard on Fire Service Life Safety Rope and System Components