All posts tagged fail

Check out this video sent to us by Francisco Palacios, owner of Ascendere SAS in Cali, Columbia. There seems to be a slight disagreement between the firemen and police on the scene of this training. What they are arguing over brings itself to light around the 00:46 mark.

There seems to be much debate about how to properly load the pulley on the track line. Ultimately the law does win, but they certainly are not right.



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):


Not quite as high speed, but certainly just as interesting is this awesome pickoff grab of a guy who was caught midair and wrestled back over the railing. Quick acting by all parties involved!





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:





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:


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.

Inside look at high angle rescue training_00000


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.



More footage in the second video here: 

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.



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.

While I’d love to start the year on a high note, this video of a rope rescue demonstration brought out the Debbie Downer in me. How many rope rescue guys does it take t screw in a light bulb? Answer: 7.  One to screw it in and 6 to point out how he could have done it better and more safely.



With that in mind, I’d like to talk about the video below. There are a few things that jump out at me:

  • Firefighting gear isn’t technical rescue gear. I’d argue you are better off with the increased flexibility of your station uniform. The brim on the back of a firefighting helmet is great at keeping water and junk from falling down the back of your coat at a fire; it’s also great at hanging up on rope, railings, and everything else at a rope call.
  • While there are several examples of a worse edge transition, this one was successful, but had the potential for disaster. The mainline system was run under the fencing and the basket was placed over it. This created the potential for a pretty big drop. A belay line did not appear to be in place until the rescuer climbed over the fence.
  • There was no obvious edge protection for the main line. If the basket had dropped prior to the attachment of the belay line, it would have taken a pretty substantial fall on an unprotected edge.
  • The belay line was not along the same plane as the main line. If the belay line were to be needed, there would have been significant horizontal movement.
  • If using webbing to help lower a basket over the edge, consider wrapping a Munter (Italian) hitch around the railing rather than strong arming it.
  • A high directional would have solved most of these problems. Even just going over the fence would have helped quite a bit.  To reinforce the fence and keep it from collapsing back towards the anchor due to the resultant, a reinforcing strut could be put into place pretty quickly. Like this:




This dramatic highline failure in Lima, Peru looks like somebody tried to go bungee jumping while attached to a Stokes basket loaded with a (previously) uninjured victim.

A couple of points to note:

Just before the track line snaps, you can see the carriage kind of “chugging” along down the line, indicating that something is binding up somewhere. One thought is that the control line used to lower the rescue package down the trackline is on the downhill side of the carriage, which would cause the side cheeks of the pulley to dig into the rope until there was enough force to cause the pulley to move down the rope a bit before binding up again. Hence the chugging motion.

The tension on the trackline seems to be way too tight. While it is a sloping highline, there seems to be very little sag, which would indicate that the trackline was too tight and easily susceptible to being cut by something…like, say, a pulley that is loaded sideways.

There is no horizontal control line on the downhill side. When the basket falls, there is a substantial fall distance as well as one hell of a swing fall at the bottom of the ride. When the basket reaches the bottom of its arc, it starts to swing back up again, only to be stopped by  the second floor walkway, which I’m sure did quite a number on the rope.

Had there been a lower horizontal control line, the total fall distance would most likely have been less, and the swing fall most certainly would have been all but eliminated.

Despite all of those things, the system still kept the load from hitting the ground. Not a ringing endorsement, but it does give you an idea of strong our equipment actually is.

I’d seen this video before, but Matt Hunt from Sterling Rope passed along a facebook link to it that caused me to search for a linkable version of it. Thanks for bringing it back to the forefront, Matt.

And just for kicks, here is a dramatic presentation of what happens when there is not enough sag in the system between your anchors. It’s a good showing of the load pulling the anchors towards each other:

anchor failure