All posts tagged failure

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





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: 

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.



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:




It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…


Taken at face value, this is just a really ballsy, really beautiful shot of somebody walking a tightrope/slackline over Yosemite Falls. Completely ignoring the fact that I generally have the balance of a member of Delta House (Animal House) on a Friday night, I wouldn’t do that on my most fearless day even if I could walk a razor straight line.

The rigging, however, is what I was most focused on. The line that the guy is walking on is anchored on terra firma on one side and is anchored off to another highline on the other side!!!

The deflection in the anchor highline looks to be practically nil. The forces of a highline pulling on a highline, especially one with very little deflection, are likely to be pretty darn high. I guess that it worked, so I shouldn’t take too much issue with it. But there are several things that I saw that gave me a bit of pause. Aside from the fact that it’s a highline attached to a highline, the floating anchor side is attached with either multiple slings or a doubled up sling. Regardless, it is presenting a hell of a tri load on the single carabiner used for the attachment.

Secondly, it doesn’t seem like the smartest idea to me to be cutting the trackline with a knife; especially with one so small, doesn’t lock, and isn’t tethered off. The release of tension on the anchor highline causes the predictable, violent release. The chances for that blade to cut something you’re hanging on is just too much risk for me… but nothing bad happened here, so maybe I’m just more risk averse. Maybe a happy compromise would have been cutting the line with some scissors or trauma shears. I’m curious why they had to cut the line at all, though. It had to get out to that point somehow prior to it being tensioned.

Regardless, it looked like a great time to be communing with nature while on rope.


A not so great communing with nature while on rope is summed up in this picture from India.


Torrential rains in India this week caused some massive flooding and landslides that have left over 1000 people dead.  HERE is the story.

Nice use of two tracklines in order to keep the sag to a minimum and people out of the water. The slack control lines can be forgiven because, according to the article, these type of highlines were being used to transport multiple people to safety in a short amount of time.  A good trade off/ system analysis/ threat assessment in my opinion.

Let’s drop some acid… on our harnesses and see what happens to them.


This is what equipment manufacturer Black Diamond said to themselves after a customer returned a harness that just kind of blew apart at the seams. The short version of the results is that hydrochloric acid is REALLY bad for nylon. To see how Black Diamond came to that conclusion, check out the writeup that they did:


[vimeo w=400&h=300]