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GRIMP NA 49th Parallel Rescue Team Diary

Written by Peter Nicol, Team Lead for 49th Parallel Rescue Team


As I begin this blog, we are one week away from leaving our homes. The team will not be travelling together. Some are leaving early to spend time with family in California, some will be riding motorcycles to LA, some will be driving with the team gear, and the lucky ones get to fly in like rockstars.

The team has planned to arrive early, providing necessary training time together. Our team is spread out across Canada. We come from Brampton, Langley, Surrey, White Rock, Comox and Nanaimo. Training time together is rare and difficult to schedule.

We have been fortunate though, our team was able to get 4 training sessions together. We are hopeful that will be enough time to do well in the competition.

One of the many lessons I've learned from competing is that there is never enough training time. You have to accept that the skills that your team has at the start of the competition, will be enough.

This reminds me of another important lesson. We start each scenario as a team and we finish as a team. Any challenges or problems that occur along the way will be handled as a group. Of course, there are expectations for individual skill and ability. The lesson is, that any member that is stuck or failing, will get help from the team.


T-6 Days

Lots of details to sort out.

One more virtual team meeting would be nice. Most of the team still has to work.

Walking around with carabiners, clipping and Unclipping. Great way to keep up the motor skills and get in the rigging frame of mind.


T-4 Days

Today the first team member left for Los Angeles.

Personal gear is being dropped off for the trip.

Packing up my own personal gear and the team gear that I have with me.

Lots to think about right now. Trying to stay focused on the present and not drift off into the “what if‘s”. It has been 3 years since we were on the battleship Iowa. From what I remember, there is a lot we didn’t see and many places the competition could go.


T-2 Days

Lots going on today, spent time going through gear item by item. A detailed list is necessary for customs to cross into the U.S. as well as returning to Canada. Made a few equipment additions to the list as well. I find the team gear is always a big project when travelling to a competition.


Travel day 1

Up at 2:30 am and on the road by 3. Made it through the border with no delays. A long day of driving is planned. About 14 hours to get to the stopover point.


Travel day 2

Shorter drive time today only 6 hours to get to L.A. Once we arrived we got all gear into one hotel room. Spent a few hours chatting with the team and building our gear bags how we want them.


Practice day 1

The weather is quite warm in L.A for our team. Definitely felt the effects of the heat. Our team ran a full day of practice today. We focused on communication. We were striving for common terminology between the team. Made basic systems plans, and ran through a couple of different high line configurations as well as edge transitions.

It was a busy day, but we accomplished a lot in a short time.


Practice day 2

Another hot day, definitely challenging for us.

We worked on a highline setup, some raises and lowers, edge transitions and building the team up.


Pre-competition day

Today we got to sleep in a little and rest up before we start the competition tomorrow. There were some sponsors set up at the competition site, and some skill stations with the equipment that will be at some of the scenarios. We completed registration and attended meetings. We enjoyed a social event in the evening and got to meet lots of competitors and some old friends.


Competition Day 1

Friday morning, our first scenario, 'The Stacks'.

Our team has a history with the stacks. In 2019, it was our first scenario ever as a team. We had several issues right from the beginning, we worked hard and solved almost every problem but we ran out of time. Now here we are in 2022, we are starting at the stacks again. It was definitely in the back of our minds that we were beaten by this scenario before, except this time, we came prepared to conquer the stacks. We ran a great high line operation and finished it with 16 minutes to spare. What a way to start off GRIMP NA 2022. The feeling it gave us to finish that scenario, it was an absolute feeling of satisfaction. We all felt the sting of not completing it 3 years prior. It was a tough pill to swallow. However, we got another chance and we didn’t waste the opportunity.

Our next scenario was 'The Fly bridge'. We did well at this in 2019. We adapted to the changes and ran a very respectable time of 41 minutes.

The team was settling in, having some fun and enjoying the moment.

Our 3rd and final scenario of the day was called 'Broadway'. We had some issues locating our patient on this one. There was a large area below decks where they could be. It was completely dark and it turned into a tough game of hide and go seek. Once we located the patient, we had everything ready to go. We got the patient and two rescuers out in under an hour.


Competition Day 2

We were a little sore after day 1, but we were ready to work hard and do our best for 3 more scenarios.

First scenario was called 'The Catacombs'. This scenario was a lot of fun. When we figured out the fastest way to get the patient out, it turned into a sprint race. We got this one done in 14 minutes.

Second scenario was called, “You don’t want to go Here”. It really lived up to it’s name. It was tight, dirty and hot in there. We got our rescuer in there quickly and found our patient. A second rescuer went in to assist with packaging and patient movement back to a place where we could lift them up the 2 decks. Then we had to move our patient through 3 baffles that had tight openings. Our patient would not fit laying flat, we had to roll him partially lateral to get him through. Then we had to raise him up manually to an opening that was elevated almost 5 feet up. Again it was a partial lateral position. Once out of the space it was a quick drag to the finish area. Then the team was quickly ascending and cleaning gear. We were very happy with our time of just over one hour.

The third and final scenario for us was called 'Shaft Alley'. For this one, we had to make entry down a couple of decks. Then locate the patient that was actually up a few levels. Our rescuers and one rigger made entry to package the patient and then build a system to lower the patient. Then it was a horizontal movement back to a spot beneath our entry point. We did a raise and had one team member above and below the patient to assist with patient movement through the deck level hatches. We completed this in just under one hour.


Summary

We had a total of 30 hours of training time. 16 of those hours were the two days before the competition. Those 2 days we had the whole team together. Prior to that only we only trained with 4 out of the five team members. We competed against some of the top teams from around the world. We were very humbled and surprised to finish in 3rd place at Grimp NA 2022.

It turned out to be another amazing experience. The team learned a lot of new skills and tricks to take back to their communities!

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