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Is there more than one way to tie a knot?

Posted by Alex Zielinski on Tue, Jul 18, 2017 @ 02:29 PM

In high angle rescue or confined space rescue the crux of our rescue systems are our knots. It is important as a rescuer that you understand the strengths, limitations, and appropriate applications of the knots your team uses, but is there more than one way to tie each knot?

Is there more than one way to tie a knot? YES!

As an instructor and a rescuer it is important to know multiple ways to reach the same destination. What I mean by this is that you knowing multiple paths or techniques to reach your end result of a successful rescue is paramount since most teams operate in anything but routine environments.

As a rescuer you may be in a situation that is not routine, that doesn't lend itself to the one method you learned in that one class, that method to rig a system or tie a knot may not be practical because you are now inverted in a confined space with multiple patients below you.

As an instructor you may have students who have been tying knots since birth and others who have never held a piece of rope in their life. You cannot take the approach that the student just isn't getting it, perhaps you're just not teaching it the way that works for them. Knowing multiple methods may help you find the way that works for a particular individual - guide them, show them the other methods.

As long as any given method brings us to the same end result, without any extra twists or strain to the rope, and Rope rescue & butterfly knotwithout using an extraordinary amount of time, it is an acceptable method. The goal here is to be proficient in whatever you do and be capable of doing it and 3 A.M. when called to a rescue.

As an example, I am aware of three ways to tie an Alpine Butterfly or Lineman's Knot: the twist method and two variations on the hand-wrap method. Any of these three methods creates the chosen knot and any argument made for one method over the other is typically only a matter of preference since you are creating the same knot each time.  

Don't let yourself become the victim of routine or complacency. Because you ALWAYS work standby rescue for only two types of confined spaces, or you ONLY pick-off workers from a fall into their harness doesn't justify knowing ONLY that single method that you work with each time. At some point your routine will be broken, equipment will be missing or fail, or you'll have multiple patients outside of your routine situation. Get out of your comfort zone and never stop preparing. There are multiple ways to tie knots. Learn a new one today!

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Tags: confined space rescue, confined space rescue training, butterfly knot, ways to tie a knot

Indiana Rope Rescue Technician: Do I Need Annual Training?

Posted by Alex Zielinski on Thu, Jul 06, 2017 @ 09:29 AM

After passing the state’s written test and practical skills you may feel like a certified rope technician who can take on the world. Depending on your level of training and experience you might be capable of rigging the world, maybe not. More importantly, do you know what's required to maintain your certification?

In the state of Indiana your Operations or Technician level certification never expires. Currently, from the state, there is no refresher or continuing education requirement. You could train eight hours per week or never touch a carabiner after your class and, in both cases, you remain certified.

Rescue Team 01Is the Indiana Department of Homeland Security the only governing body for you as a rope rescue technician? NO!

What standards apply to you as a rescuer in Indiana? MANY!

NFPA 1670 specifies requirements for your organization or authority having jurisdiction. NFPA 1006 specifies technical job performance requirements in which you should be competent. A requirement for your initial training was to meet NFPA 1006 requirements in addition to the CMC Rope Rescue Manual 4th edition. NFPA 1983, though often cited as a use standard, specifies testing and certification requirements for software and hardware used for rescue.

None of these standards states specifically that a certain amount of training is required to maintain certification or proficiency, only that you need to be competent in specific skills, though it doesn't specify how often it should be assessed or demonstrated. From NFPA 1006 we can infer that as long as you are a practicing rope rescue technician you need to be able to perform those skills.

No matter what NFPA says, it is arguable that NFPA standards are not enforceable by law. Unless adopted by Indiana codeRope Rescue 01 they are not criminally punishable. The counter to this argument is that if your rescue team was negligent and did not adhere to a standard and caused an injury or death, your team may be held liable for not following an industry consensus standard.

Standards developed by NFPA and similar standards development organizations (SDOs) are "voluntary consensus standards," created through procedures accredited for their consensus decision-making, openness, balance of interests represented, and fairness by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

Can we be more specific? YES!

OSHA may be misunderstood by some in the fire or rescue service. In a great deal of firefighter or rescue training there is not a lot conveyed about OSHA and its applicability to firefighters in the state of Indiana. OSHA states more clearly an annual training requirement for confined space rescue teams though it is not considered a very robust or demanding standard.

Relevant sections of 29 CFR 1910.146:

CFR 1910.146(k)(1)(iii)
Select a rescue team or service from those evaluated that:

1910.146(k)(1)(iii)(A)
Has the capability to reach the victim(s) within a time frame that is appropriate for the permit space hazard(s) identified;

1910.146(k)(1)(iii)(B)
Is equipped for and proficient in performing the needed rescue services;

 

Again, we see here general provisions that a rescuer must be capable and proficient.

The 1910.146 gets more specific:

1910.146(k)(2)(iv)
Ensure that affected employees practice making permit space rescues at least once every 12 months, by means of simulated rescue operations in which they remove dummies, manikins, or actual persons from the actual permit spaces or from representative permit spaces.

 

So, once every 12 months a rescue must be simulated. Also in this standard is the statement that if you had to perform a live rescue in a true emergency you may count that actual emergency as your annual rescue training.

Now, before this article gets too far in too many directions let me summarize:

· The Indiana Rope Rescue program requires no recertification or continuing education to remain certified.

· Every standard (NFPA 350, 1006, 1670 and OSHA 1910.146) applicable to rope rescue states that a rescuer must be proficient and/or competent.

Only OSHA's confined space standard states that a rescue be performed annually. You need to perform and document hours of training to meet standards but also perform highly technical skills under extremely stressful conditions.

Rope Rescue 02If your company or your department provides rescue services your employees must be prepared. One training drill annually does not create proficient rescuers. From the classes I have taught it is easy to distinguish the students who train monthly or weekly from the students who only train annually. Lacking proficiency in basic knots is a clear indication that you are not prepared for a rescue today.

In conclusion, the National Fire Academy, in its studies and training on initial and established rapid intervention teams (firefighters who rescue trapped or lost firefighters from fires) acknowledges that this is a physically and mentally demanding task. They state that the minimum set forth by applicable standards (two firefighters performing no other task but standby to initiate rescue) is not enough to prepare the rescuer for the stressful conditions they will encounter and state that the standard for rescuing downed firefighters should be viewed as the minimum.

In this same way, standards applied to your rescue teams should be seen as the minimum. Always aim higher because your coworkers and your community demands it. Do you want you rescuing you?

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Tags: rope rescue, rescue team