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.
While there is great debate about whether the mirrored Two Tensioned Rope System (TTRS) using CMC Rescue Multi-Purpose Devices (MPDs) should or shouldn’t be the way to go, one argument seems to be more popular than others regarding it: If one of the lines should fail and the person operating the second MPD fails to let go, the load will have a catastrophic fall. This is a simplified statement that I feel sums up the majority of what the argument seem to be about.
Mirrored system run off the head of an Appalachian Doortex:
What I find most interesting with this argument is that we now want to account for a SECOND point of failure i our system. What if: one rope is cut, one anchor blows out, etc… AND what if the belayer doesn’t let go, doesn’t realize the first line is compromised, etc…
No other system rope rescue system is viewed in this perspective despite the fact that any belay system can be overridden by an inattentive belay operator. So if we want to assume a second point of failure, do we need a third rope? Of course not; we need a fourth in case the third one goes. I’m kidding, of course.
The arguments seem to hinge on whether or not failure one causes failure two and if the nebulous “human factors” can be accounted for. It’s an acceptable thought, but again, we don’t apply this anywhere else in our rigging process. Otherwise we would have tertiary anchors and ropes for every main anchor and change of direction. While human factors that can affect performance and safety are certainly worth looking at, I find it difficult to see how they can be applied equally to ALL systems.
What I think this segues into is a topic of the BCCTR BCDT (or more correctly ASTM F2436-05) criteria and whether or not it needs to be changed. The MPD meets the BCDT criteria. So does a T3WP and a 540. Both of these can be overridden when in use, but meet the BCDT criteria. How do we apply an equal rule about not letting go (human factor) of a device during a belay event? I don’t think there is one. By simply doing what ever you can to make a device fail while operating it during a belay test will only lead to a witch hunt against whatever device you don’t like.
The pessimist in me wants to do a presentation at ITRS entitled “They all Suck. A look at modern belay Devices” Now of course I don’t believe that, but I think this is the area that you will get to if you try and account for human factors in a test. As a fireman, I’ve seen lots of ways people have gotten themselves in trouble and I am positive that the rope world is not ready to account for human ignorance as part of a test method. I think the line has to be drawn somewhere. To quote the great author Douglas Adams: “A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.” A better idea, and one already in NFPA 1006 (make of that what you will), is to have people pass a competency test to operate a belay system.
But do we really need another test? We’ve got the BCDT to determine if the device is capable. We’ve got the “whistle test” to test our rigging if everybody were to let go. These two tests can be equally applied to a traditional main and belay system as well as a TTRS. Is there a way to devise a test that can be equally applied to every system? If there isn’t, then maybe now is the time to figure it out. If not then I think the arguments, while not pointless, will probably not be solved. I can stand on one side of the argument and talk until I am blue in the face that the the TTRS with MPDs meets all of our current criteria and somebody else can stand on the other side and talk about what will happen when somebody doesn’t let go of the handle.
Here is a suggestion for one (expensive) way to solve this problem:
While the Petzl ASAP and L57 Absorbica are rated for two person loads for what Petzl calls “Accompanied Descent”, it is not shown in the instruction manual that you can attach it to the anchor to be used in the way shown in the picture above. I am extrapolating that it can be used that way. I have not tested this method yet, so I am only guessing as to its effectiveness. It is merely a possible solution to a problem that people have with an MPD based TTRS.
We get all off the benefits the TTRS has to offer as well as being protected from a runaway belay in the event of an inattentive operator.
Is an MPD based TTRS the be all, end all of rope rescue? Maybe, maybe not. But I do think it solves more problems than it causes. It also allows people who are required to perform rope rescue but don’t like it a safe way to operate, while at the same time allowing some unique options for the geek that a traditional slack belay system doesn’t allow.
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.
A department in Oregon was on the news for a rescue they accomplished when they rescued a kid who fell 50′ down a cliff while trying to retrieve a cell phone (thank goodness for job security). In the video footage win the link below, you can briefly see the setup they used during the actual rescue. The Fire Chief also took the opportunity of the news interview to have his guys using an Arizona Vortex at ground level for some good public education. Nicely done!
The title of a “The Greatest Highline Ever” is being given to a group of people who probably knew very little about rope rescue as we know it and also probably wish they never had to set up this highline.
On May 11, 1945 an aircraft carrier called the USS Bunker Hill was near Okinawa, Japan supporting the invasion of Okinawa when it was struck by two kamikaze planes in quick succession. The ship was heavily damaged and the crew suffered massive casualties. 346 sailors and airmen were killed, 43 were lost at sea and never found, and 264 were wounded.
A light cruiser named the USS Wilkes Barre was one of several ships that came to the rescue. The Wilkes Barre was brought alongside Bunker Hill, with the Wilkes-Barre ’s bow placed hard against the Bunker Hill’s starboard quarter. The cruiser played 10 streams of water on the persistent fires, while 40 men, trapped astern in Bunker Hill scrambled to safety. Additionally, the injured were ferried to safety from one ship to another utilizing a highline. The title of “Greatest Highline Ever” goes to the “Greatest Generation”. Take a look at the pictures below and see if you agree. Additionally, take 3 minutes to watch the Youtube video below. There is some really compelling footage of the actual attack as well as some pretty gruesome pictures of the aftermath. Let’s not forget the sacrifice these guys made.
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):
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.
Let’s face it, the fire service is not really screaming for any new acronyms; particularly one that rehashes another acronym but with a slight twist. Yet, here I am proposing a new acronym that is a twist on an old one.
One of the more noted acronyms when calling a Mayday is LUNAR. Location, Unit, Name, Air, Resources needed. While it is adequate, I’ve always wondered why “Air” was on the list. It’s not as if we’ll say: “He’s got plenty of air, let’s let him wait a while” or “He’s got plenty of air, let’s leave this RIT bottle here. I’m sure we’ll be done before he runs out”. It doesn’t really strike me as all that important.
I’ve also wondered why it has “Resources” there. While it might be chic in fire service management to use a word like “resource”, if I were in a jam the last thing I would be thinking about would be using a word like “resource” for what I need. I need HELP, not a resource. I imagine Resource is there, along with Air quite frankly, to help make a neat sounding acronym.
I think LUNAR is adequate, but I am proposing a new one based on my past experience as a truckie:
That’s right, LUNCH. Who doesn’t think about lunch… particularly at a firehouse. Whole days revolve around it sometime and most guys never miss it. It’s unlike LUNAR in that, while the moon is out every night to possibly remind you, if you don’t leave the firehouse at night (truckie), you never get to remind yourself of it.
The one concession toward having a clever acronym is that I have also thought that adding your name in there was a little pointless as well. “Oh, it’s FF Byrne… F#ck him. We’ll get there when we get there”. Without it though, we wouldn’t have the mildly smartass LUNCH acronym.
So… Next time you sit down at lunch, give yourself a 3 second refresher in calling in a mayday for yourself. For example:
“MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY. Rescue Team B, FF Byrne on the Bravo side of the kitchen table, I am out of A1 sauce for my dry steak the engine overcooked. I need A1 sauce and a cookbook for the engine to read the future. ”
Simple as that! Seriously though, it doesn’t have to take long and it keeps your mind in the game. And if anybody can think of another word for Help or Resource that begins with the letter K, we can get rid of “Name” as well and just go with LUCK.
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.
Being a fireman and a rope geek, the topic of emergency escape and belaying is a big one to me. So I’d like to share with you this video that was found, through rigorous searching of the internet, covering just those topics.
Should you be interested in the device (doubtful), the name of the company is shown later in the video.
These two videos were posted previously, but the links have gone bad. So here they are again for you to see how things can go REALLY wrong if you don’t know what the heck you’re doing. Both are from Peru. Just so it’s out there again: If you are visiting Peru and they ask if you want to ride a highline, it’s probably in your best interest to politely decline.
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