All posts tagged accident

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.

Air Line CO

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.

LA County Blue Sheet





We repost this every year on the anniversary of Mark Falkenhan’s death because we feel very strongly that we don’t want to lose the lesson about closing the door while searching. Mark’s death is a very graphic example of how much more tenable rooms can be by simply closing the door.



If you’ve not read about this LODD, please take a minute to read some of our thoughts on it as well as the NIOSH report. There are also several fire models done by the ATF that show how the fire progressed. One interesting note: A sharp eyed reader of this website noticed a PPV fan in one of the pictures while the fire was still going on. He had asked if that had any bearing on the rapid fire spread. After reaching out to the ATF agent who did the modeling, he replied that the fan was never turned on and thus had no bearing on the fire spread.

We want to thank you, the readers, for picking up on stuff like this as well as the ATF for responding so quickly and candidly.

A link to our original article:

Close the Door Please, I’m Busy in Here

NIOSH report:

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:IMG_1654IMG_1652



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:


high five fail

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:





Something not quite right about this picture… I just can’t put my finger on it, though.


Seriously though, if you’ve never thought about the forces generated from a rope system, even something as simple as a Munter hitch… this should be all the warning you’ll ever need. I suspect that the climber was falling and got his finger caught in the hitch while it was slack , only to have it still there when the rope tightened again.


Eric Ulner from Ropes that Rescue provided this response via Facebook:

“I use Munter and super Munter all the time in tree work for catching branches/logs to lower away from structures. While rigging the Munter, and BEFORE firing up the chainsaw, I will take up as much slack as possible while leaving the Munter in its “jumped” position. That involves pulling that strand coming out of the standing end’s first turn on the carabiner with one hand while the other pulls the opposite direction on the standing end. I developed a habit for doing this a long time ago, where I use a pinch grip on the 2nd strand with my thumb pressing the rope against the side of my curled forefinger (much like a fist). The thought of this very situation crossed my mind when I was tying off a brittle/dead branch…

So, the position of the finger and the palm down position of the hand says to me that this poor chap was trying to keep the Munter jumped while he took up slack while belaying, but with the mistake of wrapping the finger around the 2nd strand.”


I think he correct and in looking closer at the picture, we can see that the carabiner looks like it attached to a belay anchor. The owner of this finger was probably belaying a climber who fell while his finger was in the Munter. Thanks for the insight, Eric!


Thanks to Brian Kazmierzakof Firefighter Close Calls for send this in to us. We’re unable to find the origin of this picture and have no idea of the circumstances surrounding it. If you have any info, we’d love to know the particulars.