Well…it’s Carbon Monoxide (CO), so there isn’t a smell. But there is something interesting going on with the hose lines in this Supplied Air Breathing Apparatus system.
115 PPM of CO !
While scouring the internet for all things pertinent to Rescue work, our newest member, Jimbo H, found an interesting after action report from LA County. Apparently, two firefighters entered a tank using SCBA to make a rescue of a downed worker. After about 15 minutes the firefighters switched from SCBA to Supplied Air; 3 minutes after the switch is when things started going downhill for them. An attentive person working the communications kit noticed the firefighters breathing funny and started the process to get them out.
I’m not sure how they switched from SCBA to SABA. It’s possible they switched out their entire system while in the space, which seems like a bad idea. Or, they could have been using their SCBA and then just hooked up to their EBSS or URC from a remote source. If that were the case, the air from the remote source would seem to be the problem.
I’m not sure that the level of CO present in our hoses and in that small of a volume would cause the same problem as experienced in LA County, but it’s interesting to note that bad air can exist in the hoses.
There’s a ton of different ways to attach your travel restriction to your anchor; some right, some wrong. One of the easiest ways to make it happen is also one of the worst. Simply wrapping you carabiner and rope around the anchor and clipping it back to itself is not an entirely uncommon sight.
Take a look at the videos below that were taken by Richard Delaney of Rope Lab and Rope Test Lab on Facebook. They show what can happen if you actually took a fall on this type of tie off. This type of demonstration should be enough proof for the doubters that you should actually pay attention to how you tie off. It’s obviously an issue of training to make sure it always gets done correctly. Sometimes it can be the littlest attention to details that can have the biggest effect.
The wrong way:
Better ways to tie off are to use either a clove hitch or Italian (Munter) hitch:
There was a rescue from the Paulinskill Viaduct in New Jersey earlier this week. A young female injured her ankle while apparently climbing around under the viaduct, a popular place to do some urban exploring. The viaduct is listed a seeing 125′ above the creek below.
Reading the article linked below and looking at some of the pictures, a few things jumped out at me. The first was that just because you can access somebody on foot, in this case climbing down the manhole, doesn’t mean it’s the easiest way to remove them. It looks like the rescuers entered down the manhole on foot and came up the side of the viaduct as an attendant on the side of the stokes basket.
A couple of things I noticed: Great use of the tools at hand to construct a high directional. I do think, however, that it was leaned out a bit too far. If you watch the video in the link, you can see the difficulty in trying to bring the basket up and over the rail while the attendant is still attached. Not a huge difficulty, but probably frustrating.
Four quick thoughts on fixing that, from guy who wasn’t there and is Monday morning quarterbacking it. First, don’t have an attendant. There didn’t look to be many obstructions on the way up. Attendants are popular because it looks cool and we often times do it in training, but they are not needed as often as we put them on.
Second, have the attendant get on terra firma as soon as possible. This will cause the edge crew to only have to haul a single person load out of plumb and up over the rail. This means that the attendant needs to EASILY be able to move up and down the rope; either be great at ascending and descending quickly or use something like an AZTEK kit for the attendant’s line.
Third, don’t lean the bipod over so far. It’s nice to not have any rope touching the edge anywhere, but it makes it a tremendous pain in the butt to try and get back up over the edge because you are trying to pull a load a couple of feet in on a short rope. Difficult, to say the least.
Fourth, make gravity work for you. I’m not sure if it was possible or not, but why not just lower all the way to the ground? Have the Gator at the train the bottom and move them up to the ambulance on that, perhaps? Again, I wasn’t there, but options like this one should always be considered during the size up.
After sharing a bunch of stories from around the world, here are two rope stories from the general where Rescue 2 Training is based out of.
The first story is of a cave rescue out of Monroe County, WV. The victim was approximately 4000′ inside of the cave when he fell approximately ten feet and broke his leg. A mere 8 hours and 75 members later, he was back outside of the cave and on the way to the hospital. A picture from one of the local news stations shows just how much rope work went into this rescue.
I wasn’t there, so I feel a little bad about Monday Morning Quarterbacking it, but… A picture is just a snapshot of one small moment in time, but from looking at the picture, it seems that there were a couple of missed opportunities to tighten up the rigging a little bit. For starters, the double overhand safeties on the 8’s seems like a bit overkill. Additionally, the bights on the 8’s are overly long. And if clearance is an issue, and I assume it is being in a cave, why not just tie direct to the litter bridle with a scaffold knot and get yourself an extra 1′ or more of additional space? Those minor quibbles aside, to looks like it was a difficult rescue and that they had to construct a highline in a cave just to provide a high anchor point to pull him up.
Even closer to home is the report of a man who fell 75 feet down Sugarloaf mountain while hiking and then had a seizure. Being on the dividing line between two counties, both Frederick and Montgomery County units assisted with the helicopter evacuation flown by Maryland State Police. I’m not sure about Mont. Co, but I know for certain the the Frederick County ATR (Advanced Technical Rescue) team does perform regular drills with the MSP helicopters in order to perform on these types of calls without any confusion. If your agency has the potential to run extract calls with a helicopter, do you have any special training to make sure nothing goes wrong when the helicopter shows up?
From the Frederick ATR Facebook page (cool video there of rescuers perspective too):
An interesting point from the news interview in the link below: When asked if he would go hiking again, the man who fell said that he probably wouldn’t do it unless he go there proper footwear and even then, would only stay on the trail. That’s an interesting point that might be lost on most people who have no idea why they might have fallen. Good for him for being self aware!
It seems that despite the lack of American popularity, the technique of the “Kickoff Pickoff” is pretty widely used throughout the rest of the world. Take the video below, sent to us by Will Paces from NIPSTA, as an example. It’s the latest in a line of this “unique” style of rescue that we have presented here. Looks like a fun drill to practice at work! I don’t think I’d want to be the victim though.
Judging by the results of the technique, it would appear that speed and power are a vital part of making the “Kickoff Pickoff” technique work properly. Witness what happens when you pussyfoot around with the technique (I’m not sure why I can’t get the video to embed, but it is definitely worth watching):
You may have heard of it as many different names, but if you want to learn practical, well researched information on suspension trauma than you have before, take an hour and watch the video below. In it, Dr. Roger Mortimer, gives his take on what is actually happening to people who are hanging in a harness and why he thinks they sometimes die because of it. I had the pleasure of seeing Dr Mortimer present this at the International Technical Rescue Symposium. He’s a great great presenter without any qualification. As a doctor explaining medical stuff to a lay crowd, he’s surely the best in the business. He’s also a cave rescue guy and has spent his share of time in a harness.
Someone who was left hanging:
The readers digest version of the big points:
– Death from hanging in a harness is caused by lack of victim movement, not the amount of time they are hanging. Have the victim move their legs if they are able.
– Tell the hospital the victim has rhabdomyolysis and to prepare to treat them for that. It will save a lot of time and confusion on both sides.
– It’s okay to lay the victim down after they have been removed from rope.
Here is a link to the paper published in the Wilderness Medical Society Journal:
Learning from others’ mistakes is something we can and should do, particularly when it pertains to rescue work. The situations below are prime examples of this. Take a minute to laugh a little at their misfortune (I’m pretty sure nobody died), but then try and absorb what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen to you.
The first example of things going bad could have been solved by a couple of easy solutions like: knowing how to tie a knot, having somebody who knows how to tie a knot look over your system, use a backup line that is tied with an appropriate knot, etc… There’s a trend there somewhere.
Knowing how your system is going to react when acted upon is a REALLY good skill to have when performing rope rescue operations. See if you can figure out what is going to happen in the video below when the helicopter pulls up to lift the rescue package:
Here at Rescue 2 Training we are pretty big fans of getting our rope systems up off of the ground for the edge transition. Combine a low rope over the edge with not knowing what your rope system is going to do when you load it (as mentioned above) and you have recipe for a bad time. Here is what the finished, face smashing product (and Bad Edge Transition Hall of Fame member) looks like when you pull it out of the oven:
I originally posted this over two years ago (HERE). Today is the fourth anniversary of FF Mark Falkenhan losing his life while searching above the fire. As a guy who searches above the fire pretty often while at work, the lessons to be learned from this tragedy cross my mind pretty frequently. There’s always lessons to be learned from a LODD, but this one hit close to home for me, both geographically and operationally.
While the title of this post might sound like a joke, it is a deadly serious fact that leaving a door open while searching a structure in fire conditions can lead a very bad ending, as we will see.
While at a fire recently in a two story single family dwelling,with fire on the second floor and searching the room across the hallway from the room on fire, I decided to shut the door behind me to search the bedroom. It’s not something I normally do, as we’re fortunate enough to have aggressive companies who get water on the fire quickly and trucks who aren’t afraid to open up; so the need does not usually arise. However, beating the first due engine in and with a report of people trapped, we made our way to the second floor.
After getting into the bedroom, my partner and I shut the door behind us. That’s a pretty nerve wracking thing to do: shut a door in a house you’ve never been in and can’t see a thing in. It’s easy to miss a doorknob on the wide expanse of wall when trying to make your way back out of that door. Anyhow, even though there was zero visibility and we were conducting our search on feel, it was a great comfort to feel the heat subside A LOT. It bought quite a bit of time on my mental search clock that lets me know when it is time to go. Thankfully, the engine was there quickly and we could hear them getting a knock on the fire.
The reason I mention this is that it really sunk in to me how much of the ongoing fire problem was eliminated for me just by shutting the door. So I started looking around at the importance of keeping doors shut while performing a search. Unfortunately I did not have to look far or in the distant past. My looking about took me to my old department, Baltimore County, to a fire that killed FF Mark Falkenhan on Jan 19, 2011 who died from injuries sustained while searching on the top floor of a 3 story garden apartment.
The fire started as a first floor kitchen fire and rapidly spread to the two upper floors, ultimately entering the unit where FF Falkenhan was searching though an open door to the unit.
Two units, two very different results. The difference is that the unit on the left had the door closed during the fire. This was a powerful picture for me.
If you’re short on time, go to the 21:45 mark of the video below. There are also two reports; one from the ATF and one from Baltimore County. Towards the end of the ATF report are the pictures of the conditions of different units from the fire.
The forward in the Balt. County internal report by the Fire Chief states that they essentially could have done nothing different and that everything went pretty much according to plan. This despite the fact that they:
Have only 3 Battalion Chiefs for a 612 square mile area. It took the Batt. Chief 23 minutes to arrive on scene.
Had no good report from the rear about vertical fire extension.
No engine crew covering the search operation.
No back up hose line for initial attack crew.
Companies split laying on a working fire.
NO RIT TEAM!!
It’s easy to be an armchair fireground analyst, but these are systemic things that have not changed since I worked there for a short time in the late 90’s.
Take a look at the first video in the link below. It’s a news story out of Fort Wayne, IN that I assume was supposed to be a simple feel good piece highlighting the local rope rescue team. If you want to jump right to the good stuff, go to the 2:10 mark in the video. What you will see is a really big, really expensive mousetrap.
I do feel a little bit bad about Monday morning quarterbacking this video… but not enough to cause me not to do it.
First, the critical point at the Kootenay Carriage. It would appear that there are two track lines, and two upper control lines (although no lower control lines) with tails going down to the rescuer and victim. The Kootenay, however, remains a critical point. Do I think it will fail? No. But we rig for failure caused by human factors, not equipment factors. Should that Kootenay fail though, the basket could take a major and possibly fatal swing fall.
Second, there is difficulty with attempting to get the basket back up over the edge after they took a ride down and back up the track lines. The reason given in the report is that the “ropes stretched”. While I don’t doubt they stretched, take a look at the link the news story below the youtube video. The second video is extra footage they got while doing the shoot. It is obvious from watching it that they were going to have this problem. While initially loading the basket over the edge you can see how far it drops down when it is initially loaded. It’s about the same distance that they are below the edge when they come back up.
Rope stretch? Maybe. Foreseeable problem? More likely. I’m curious if the attendant could have stood on the end of the basket in order to raise the head up and over the edge. Also a factor is the excessively tall bridle they use. Judging by the video, I’m guessing from the bottom of the basket to the top of the carriage to be six feet in height.
Third, you can see from this picture just how close the resultant is to being outside of the footprint of the tripod. When the track lines were tensioned to raise the load, I’m curious if the friction in the pulleys caused them to temporarily move the resultant until they found their center again.
Fourth, two statements made during this gave me a bit of heartburn. The first is that the “white rope didn’t work the way it was supposed to.” Ropes work exactly as they are rigged. Unless it broke under tension due to unseeable chemical degradation, it was rigging failure. It’s hard to tell what the white lines were rigged to, but I’m guessing they got pulled up off of whatever they were on. The second statement is that “nobody was dropped…they were lowered”. If it was unexpected and uncontrolled, it was a drop. Maybe I would have been inclined to say the same thing out of embarrassment while on camera, but lets call it what it is.
Last, neither the reporter in the basket, nor the one on the roof seen just before the tripod topples, have a helmet on. If I were running this show, it probably would have been an afterthought for me too. Having seen this video, I’d be willing to bet it would be a fatal blow if a tripod toppling like that hits you in the head, helmet or not.
I do applaud Ft. Wayne TRT for allowing this to air (if in fact they had a choice). It’s sometimes hard to admit a goof up. It’s even harder to have it on tape for guys to critique from a distance without knowing the full circumstances (me). The least we can do is try to learn from it.
Take a look at the video sent to us by Larry Mullin of Fairfax County FD. The video shows a technique used when attempting to rescue a suicidal person who is about to jump off of a bridge. Apparently this is for when somebody like, I don’t know, a trained psychologist is unavailable and the jumper is patient enough to wait idly by as you set up two rope rescue systems. I’d love to know what you do after you have them. Raise them back up? Lower everybody into the water? Who knows?
I’ve never had to do this type of “rescue”, but I don’t want to be hanging on to a person who wants to die for an extended period of time with no other means of attaching to them. If you’d like to know why, take a look at the second video. Which will also serve as a good pitch for some type of auto locking descender.
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