All posts tagged pickoff

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!





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.



Here is a comparison of rescues performed at different speeds. The first one is an actual rescue from down in Florida of a worker who was suspended in his fall arrest harness after the scaffolding he was on collapsed. The word from our sources who were on the scene informed us that it took 1.5 hours to perform this pickoff rescue. I was not personally there and can not speak first hand of the details, but I am told that it was a pretty straight forward scenario that just took a very long time to accomplish.


The good news is that it was successful, but had the victim been in distress, it might have been a different outcome. A pickoff should be one of the bread and butter operations of every rope team. On the scene is not the time to figure out where your attachments go to the victim, method of unweighting them from their system, etc… This should all be hammered out and drilled on well in advance.

Click here for the story and video:



The opposite end of the spectrum is this video, brought to our attention by Eric Ulner of Ropes that Rescue, of a rescue competition which includes pickoffs. These guys are FAST!!! It looks like the video is sped up, but this is just the end product of dozens of hours of disciplined practice.

While real world rescues obviously present situations you are unable to specifically PLAN for, you should always be PREPARED for what might come your way. Rescues don’t need to happen at competition speed, but that’s no excuse for taking an excessive amount of time, either.

What, climbing up the outside of the Shard in London is not what you were thinking?

Six activists from Greenpeace were protesting oil drilling in the Arctic and decided to let the world know about it by shouting it from the roof top. The roof they chose, however, was the top of the Shard in London which is 1017′ high. It took them 15 hours to make the climb up the outside of the building. From looking at all of the pictures, it sure looks like they were well prepared to make the ascent without trouble.

shard protest

As a rescue consideration, it sounds like there were several points along the route where a rescuer could have accessed a climber without having to start at ground level. Letting them get to the top to make their point and then arresting when they came in was probably the easiest way to deal with the situation without any snafus and without placing anybody in additional danger. Should it have been necessary though, this kind of climbing and exposure is certainly outside of the normal scope of the urban rescuer. All the more reason to train and be equipped for just such a rescue.

Here is some video from the climb:

Climbing that is a little less well planned is the focus of the story Height of Stupidity which highlights the exploits of British youth who free climb cranes and other high structures. Ah, the invincibility of youth ! Sooner or later the inevitable will happen and somebody’s grip won’t be as strong as it was yesterday or they had a moment of clarity and decided they were scared and are hanging on for dear life. Whatever the case may be, somebody is going to have to go and get them.  Just as with the Shard climbers it is going to take some lead climb skill and in this case, will also require a harness be put on somebody who doesn’t already have one. Hopefully your team is prepared for that. If you don’t have a manufactured victim harness, make sure the team knows how to fashion a webbing seat around somebody who isn’t willing or able to lift their legs up to slide into a harness.


Stay Safe!

Another one off the front page of Statter911 is this video that redefines the Kickoff Pickoff. While the previous coverage HERE actually showed people getting kicked backwards into the structure, the video below is of the fire department’s lead off kicker on the kickball team trying his hand, foot actually, at technical rescue. Perhaps the speediest method ever of getting the victim safely to ground.

Well, if too fast is bad ,then slower should be better right? I’m not so sure in this case. The rescuer looks to be rappeling on a figure 8 descender with some sort of autoblock, so he can go hands free if he needs to. Not a bad thought. The trouble comes from clearly not being comfortable using the autoblock. It causes him to start and stop suddenly a couple of times. Worst of all is that he overshoots the target because of it. If you’re taking yourself down a rope, it ain’t a bad idea to have a way to get yourself back up.

Do you equip your team with the equipment and knowledge to quickly switch to ascent should they need it while on rappel?

It wasn’t a huge issue here, but it could have a lot worse.

Roughly translated from the ancient Nordic from which it derives, it means: a polytribal gathering of rescue people. Okay… That might be a bit of creative license. IKAR stands for the International Council for Rescue and is located in Switzerland. You can find their website HERE.

Check out the full length review of what happened at this year’s IKAR meeting in Poland. One of the neat things that stood out to me was the team from Tyrol, which does around 2000 calls annually, was using 8mm Spectra ropes. They’re ultra static and have around a 7000lb breaking strength. As you can see and hear in the video, you can’t put a knot in it and all terminations have to be spliced. Apparently it works for them, though.

Thanks to Spokane FD tillerman, rope geek, family man, and all around nice guy Mike Forbes for alerting us to this video.

While we’re on a highline kick, check out some footage from this year’s IKAR (International Council of Alpine Rescue) in Poland . If you think that you have some pretty good rope mojo, check out the video below of a highline to highline transfer of a packaged victim after they did a counterbalance raise for the vertical control line.Talk about some great line management and setup to be able to accomplish this. Go to the 2:50 mark to get to the rope stuff.

Yeah, baby!


The 5:00 mark of THIS video shows how they got the trackline across. Looks like I found a legitimate excuse to buy a crossbow!

I’m going to go out on a ledge here and say that they might. You can see the technique in action in the two videos below. This first video shows a more subtle version of the “Kickoff Pickoff ” that may or may not have been made up on the spot.


This next video clearly shows that this team has practiced this more aggressive version of the Kickoff Pickoff. Note that he was completely comfortable on a short, very fast rappel and the coordination of his partner dropping all of his excess rope as he jumps. Clearly they’ve trained on this enough to know that it will work. Because, if you get it wrong, it’s going to be a LONG day on the typewriter trying to explain this one away.