A Technical Rescue Training Class
The following are photos I took at a week-long course with Ropes That Rescue in the beautiful red-rock country of Sedona, Arizona.
I took this technical rescue course because I'm a member of an active volunteer Search & Rescue team and wanted to learn new skills and improve on others. This is a challenging, first-rate class which I highly recommend for anyone involved with technical (aka rock or rope) rescue.
In this photo, a class participant prepares to go over the edge with a Stokes litter, using a "Vortex" artificial high-directional, set up in a tripod configuration to eliminate "edge trauma." The edge person is helping the litter attendant transition over the side.
A Very Handy Tech Rescue Field Guide to Have
Many of my teammates and people I met at the Ropes That Rescue classes use this book. Our team has one of these guides on hand in our SAR building.
Ropes That Rescue Participants Practice Knot-Tying - The classroom is located in Oak Creek Canyon, in the home of Ropes That Rescue owner and instructor, Reed T
Here, students practice tying a Portugeuse bow line, while instructor and Ropes That Rescue owner Reed Thorne demonstrates some tricks for getting it right.
Practicing Simple, Compound, and Complex Mechanical Advantage Systems - We spent hours setting up pulley systems after studying mechanical advantage in the clas
Students rig a compound 9-to-1 mechanical advantage pulley system with an off-set second anchor (held by Reed Thorne in the background), so both 3-to-1 systems will "collapse" (need to be reset) at the same time. This is more efficient than having to stop the raise and reset each system separately.
Rigging a Stokes Litter Without A "Spider" - Students learn to rig a litter basket with just rope and their Aztek kits.
Rigging this way eliminates several carabiners, which means less gear and less weight to carry into the field. It's also "cleaner" and a stronger method of rigging.
A Physics Lesson - Students learn the principles behind anchor and mechanical advantage systems.
It's one thing to know how to tie knots and rig mechanical advantage raising and lowering systems. It's another to really understand how and why things work ... not to mention why and how they could fail.
Technical Rescue Training In The Field - Our class practiced on Doe Mountain on two of the seven days.
Reed explains the drill before we get started. He also goes over general safety rules for field exercises.
Using The Arizona Vortex High Directional - Students set up the Vortex and a lowering and raising system, while another participant rigs the litter before going
Inspecting The Students' Rigging - Reed goes over our systems and knots before the operation commences.
Rigging For A "Hot" Changover - The system is set up to lower the litter and attendant, then switch over to a raise after "scooping" the patient, who is mid-fac
Going Down - The litter attendant is lowered over the edge, while the edge attendant assists. The litter attendant is being belayed by the man seated on the rig
Bringing Up A Patient - This was a late-day operation done without the aid of the Arizona Vortex high directional. Edge attendants are ready to assist.
The Litter Attendant Prepares To Ascend - Near the top of the raise, the attendant straddles the litter and gets ready to climb up over the edge.
The Attendant Then Assists On Top - Bringing the litter and patient up over the edge is much more difficult without the high directional.
Negotiating The Edge Is Definitely Harder Without the High Directional
Another Practice Operation - Participants set up a 9-to-1 compound pulley system and the Arizona Vortex at the edge of a slot.
A 9-to-1 mechanical advantage means fewer haulers are needed to bring up the person/s or the rescue load than with lower MA systems, but it takes longer because, for ever 9 feet of rope pulled through the system, the load is raised just 1 foot.
The View Over The Edge - The litter attendant has to keep the litter away from the rock face as he and the patient are raised.
Sometimes, the attendant may be better off riding above the patient, in which case he can use his Aztec (a mechanical advantage device) to haul himself up and over the litter but beneath the spider. Then he can use his legs to push the litter away from the cliff face and push back on the inner rail of the litter rather than trying to pull it away from beneath. This set-up can be especially helpful to those with shorter legs and/or less upper body strength ... like me.
The Benefit of the Vortex - The Arizona Vortex high directional elimates edge "trauma" both going down and coming up.
An Anchor - This pole -- part of the Vortex -- is used as a focal point, backtied to a "bomber" tree.
The View From Doe Mountain, Where We Practiced For Two Days
© 2010 Deb Kingsbury
Comments or Questions?
Wednesday-Elf from Savannah, Georgia on February 22, 2010:
Hey Deb - welcome home from your week-long Rescue Rigging Class. Looks like it was energetic, as well as educational. Nice to know we have well-trained people out there to assist in emergencies. Looks like the class kept you very busy learning and practicing, but what a gorgeous area in Arizona to hold the class. Great photos!
Deb Kingsbury (author) from Flagstaff, Arizona on February 21, 2010:
@anonymous: Hi, Joy! Thanks for stopping by. :) I don't know about energy, though. I'm thoroughly pooped ... but probably more mentally and than physically. I just spent a whole day in my PJs.
anonymous on February 21, 2010:
Hi Deb! Wow you sure do get around. I don't think I ever had as much energy as you do. Sounds like you had quite a busy and interesting learning experience recently. This is something you definitely would want to get right. Good for you.