By Pat O'Connell, Team Lead for Rescue Great Day '22, Seville, Spain.
I will never forget the first promotional GRIMP day video I watched. It was 2011, when a colleague and fellow fire officer walked into the captain’s office of my fire hall and said, “hey Cap do you want to go to Europe and compete in a rope rescue competition called GRIMP?”. He walked over to the computer, pulled up and showed me the 2009 Petzl Grimp Day video. It starts off with some great intense music and shots of rescue technicians ripping across a Zip Line, over the river Meuse from high a top the Citadel of Namur down into the village below. My response was simple, “I’m in” !
Since our first competition in 2013 the Ronin team(s) have competed and/or been involved in over 15 Grimp Day competitions in 7 countries around the world. China, Taiwan, Belgium, United States, Japan, and now the Great Day ‘22 in Seville Spain.
2022 was Great Days 5th anniversary, an event that is normally held yearly, (exceptions of Covid) but be rest assured their organization committee and all volunteers involved did not disappoint us. It was an extremely well organized, presented evaluated and fair competition for all involved. Information started to flow immediately after our registration. The rules and regulations were provided months out, along with their prevention and security plans. We arrived in country knowing exactly how things were going to go and how they were going to run.
Grimp Seville event days consisted of one registration day, which included: team check-in, a mandatory gear check, a reception, and team leader briefing presentation. The next two days consisted of nine total scenarios: five on day #1, and four on day #2. The final day ending with a team dinner, awards ceremonies and dance party for all.
Each scenario-location information was provided via map and QR code; each scenario description was provided via a picture and descriptive information in Spanish and translated into English. There was no specific order in which teams performed each scenario daily, this to maximize timings, as we spent very little time/downtime waiting to be deployed or to initiate our scenario.
The Crosshaul. An elevated rectangular pedestrian walkway. Access was only possible by deploying climbing ropes. Two anchor locations were given and a rescue package had to be raised and transported from the ground on one side of the garden below to the other. All the while being off the ground and over a would-be hazardous raised power line that was installed midpoint.
Our takeaways; team work and coordination was our saviour, edge-pro and friction was our biggest enemy.
The Atrium. A dome shaped five-story atrium. Anchored and working from inside the upper roof. Horizontal aid climbing down a 30° iron beam, packaged and picked off a patient at the fifth floor level, deflected and lowered both patient and rescuer to the garden below.
Our takeaways; a strong aid climber was pivotal for this scenario. Remote communications and coordination also played to our success.
Unconscious Arborist. An unconscious arborist hanging on two ropes, with suspected hang syndrome. Using our own rope system we had to access and lower the patient safely to the ground. This was the first of two medical scenarios. Hang Syndrome protocols were initiated. We first deployed two static lines anchored to an adjacent tree and I directed the rescuer to do a simple (Sprat) line transfer. The team was stopped, as our understandings of the requirement for the evolution was incorrect. During international competition it is not unusual for language barriers to present a challenge. This is what had happened and as a result we had proceeded down the wrong path. Further instruction was provide that the rescuer and patient must be lowered with the assistance of the team from the ground. With this new information we then broke into the static mainline, introduced a third rope and lowered the rescue package successfully. Our time restriction on this scenario was 20 minutes, we completed and finished with only three minutes to spare.
Our takeaways; take Spanish lessons! Lol
Bridge construction site. An approx. 70 m bridge undergoing repairs and retrofitting. An injured worker required lowering from just below the car deck on top of a scaffold structure that was erected from the ground. Access was via a staircase to the work platform approximately 60m above the ground. Offset anchors were provided, limited overhead, working space, and patient orientation were the main challenges. The patient first had to leave the platform vertically then be transitioned to horizontal as soon as possible.
Our takeaways; team rigging skills and past experiences were what got us successfully and quickly through this scenario, remote and releasable anchors were used to compensate for offsets.
Rebar impaled worker. An industrial setting with a rope access ironworker that had impaled rebar through his leg 7m off the ground. We set a high point remote releasable anchor that was rigged from the ground and attached a rig plate with two COD skate block pulleys and two static climbing ropes. Two rescuers were required to access the patient. One to make contact and accompany the patient, the second to assist with patient management and cut the rebar from the structure. The rescue package was lowered by the ground rigging crew on a twin tension system using a vehicle as a secured anchor.
Our takeaways; always remember vehicle stabilization and security when using as an anchor. Take a second hacksaw blade when cutting material like rebar and using a rig plate as a remote elevated anchor provides so many more options.
This was our last scenario for day one. Please stay tuned next week for further info on the Great Day ‘22 Grimp competition from Seville Spain.