<img height="1" width="1" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=3990718177617800&amp;ev=PageView &amp;noscript=1">

Mental Health Care for Rescue Professionals

Friday, August 4, 2023

Emergency responders are more likely to develop significant mental health problems than the general population. It is estimated that nearly 30% of first responders will develop depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or even suicidal ideations at some point during their lifetime [1]. Unfortunately, a pervasive stigma surrounding mental health prevents many of these dedicated individuals from seeking help when they need it the most. It’s time to break the stigma and normalize providing help for those who dedicate their lives to helping others.  

Rescue workers are exposed to harrowing scenes of devastation, suffering, and loss on a regular basis. Repeated exposure to these critical incidents can impart serious psychological scars throughout the course of even a short-lived career. Some studies suggest that emergency workers are 3 times more likely to develop mental health issues as a result of these exposures [2]. Despite this idea becoming more and more mainstream, emergency workers rarely have an opportunity to process these emotions, and worse, the culture sometimes discourages and chastises this type of vulnerability.  

mental_health2The misguided notion that seeking help is a sign of weakness or an inability to handle the job perpetuates the stigma surrounding mental health in emergency response professions. Consequently, many workers suffer from mental health issues silently, unable to admit they need assistance. This hesitancy to seek help leads to coping with unhealthy habits, placing them at high risk for developing alcohol and substance abuse issues. The reluctance to seek help, combined with these risk factors, can lead to severe and sometimes fatal outcomes.

The importance of mental health support for rescue workers has never been clearer. Just as they are equipped with the physical tools to perform their duties, rescue workers should be provided with adequate mental health resources which are crucial in safeguarding their emotional wellbeing and overall performance. Early intervention is key, and recognizing signs of mental distress, such as changes in behavior, increased irritability, emotional exhaustion, and social withdrawal, can make a significant difference.

It’s time to break the stigma and normalize providing help for those who dedicate their lives to helping others.  

While therapy and counseling are often used as reactive measures, there is a need for proactive programs on the front end. Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) teams are becoming a staple in emergency response agencies. These individuals proactively combat the mental health endemic by helping clinicians deal with stress at its inception. By fostering a culture where seeing help is encouraged and normalized, we can empower emergency response workers to take care of their mental health without fear of judgment. 

mental_health1As emergency responders, we are an integral part of ensuring the safety and health of those in our workplace and communities. While performing this job requires incredible amounts of dedication, courage, and resilience, we must also remember that we are not invincible. By advocating for the normalization of seeking help, we can better support the emotional well-being of rescue professionals and enable them to perform at their best while facing the challenges of their noble profession.

[1] https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/dtac/supplementalresearchbulletin-firstresponders-may2018.pdf

[2] https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/733519


Additional Resources

How Sure Are You That You Don't Need On-Air Rescue Practice?

Friday, July 28, 2023

On-Air Rescue PracticeMany times, we hear teams say they don’t need to practice “on-air” rescue scenarios because their employees are not allowed to work in IDLH or low O2 areas. That always makes us ask, what about the confined spaces that have the potential for atmospheric hazards? What about those spaces that may unexpectedly become IDLH or low O2 – what then?  

It's important to note that OSHA states that a confined space must only have the “potential to contain” a hazardous atmosphere to be considered a permit-required confined space, which requires rescue capabilities.

For these unexpected instances, do you have the appropriate rescue response in place? At Roco, we believe that not training your rescue team to respond to IDLH emergencies is like setting up an expensive home protection system and then not turning it on.

Rescuers need to be prepared for the worst – as well as the unexpected – should an atmospheric hazard develop within a space. This is just one of the reasons that permit spaces can be so deadly.

NIOSH Fatal Facts:

  • A little less than half the deaths from atmospheric conditions occurred in spaces that originally tested as being acceptable for entry. Something happens unexpectedly, and things go very wrong, very quickly.

  • Approximately 60% of all fatalities in confined space incidents where multiple fatalities occurred were “would be” rescuers.

OSHA’s Confined Space Standard Box

As rescuers, we need to be prepared for the worst case scenario as well as the unexpected! This is especially true when it comes to confined spaces. 


Roco Courses With On-Air Confined Space Scenarios:






Real Rescue: Mandan Refinery Technical Rescue Team

Friday, July 14, 2023

The Mandan Refinery in North Dakota is the biggest refinery in the state. The site and its leadership take its rescue program seriously, having made significant investments in rescue equipment and training for employees. This paid off recently when an employee’s previous knee injury decided to rear its ugly head and lock up 30’ off the ground, requiring technical rope rescue skills to safely move the employee to ground level.

mandan 1

Mandan Refinery Fire Chief Jamie Reinholt was in the area when a radio call came in for a response to assist the employee. He arrived to find that the employee was on a 30’ elevated unit deck and was unable to straighten out their knee due to a prior injury. Chief Reinholt quickly determined that a limited rescue response would be needed to lower the patient to the ground.

Late morning temperatures were in the 50’s, but high winds in the 30-mph plus range added to the challenge. Ten rescue team members ultimately responded to the scene and were assigned to patient packaging and rigging teams.

The packaging team assisted the patient into a horizontal stokes basket, where they were secured to a backboard using Tiger Straps. Because the patient was unable to straighten their leg, a rope bag was used to fill the void under the knee, placing the patient in a position of comfort. A Roco horizontal stokes bridal was connected, readying the patient for lower.

mandan 2bThe rigging team accessed the deck above to set up a mainline and belay system. The anchor location provided a ready-made high point to assist with loading the patient over the edge. The rescue involved deploying the tried-and-true CMC MPD descent control device paired with an anchored Petzl ASAP, utilizing the rescue-rated Petzl Asap’Sorber Axess deceleration device. Tag lines were added, and the experienced rescue team lowered the patient to the ground where he was driven off-site for medical follow-up.

The site did an on-scene tailboard review of the rescue, which led to ongoing planning of similar rescues.

Roco Rescue is honored to present the Mandan Refinery Technical Rescue Team with the Roco Rescue “Real Rescue” Award.



Real Rescue Plaque


Roco Would Like to Recognize Your Outstanding Rope Rescue!

Nominate your rescue team so we can recognize your professional efforts with a Roco Outstanding Rope Rescue Plaque. All reports that we receive highlighting an actual rescue event will be considered.

Click here to download the Real Rescue Form. You can then email form to info@RocoRescue.com.


Using Fall Hazard Surveys to Prevent Accidents

Saturday, July 1, 2023

Preparing for the Forgotten Hazard: Rescue from Fall Protection

Falls are one of the leading causes of accidents and fatalities across many industries. Whether it's in construction, manufacturing, or any other type of workplace, identifying and addressing fall hazards is essential to keeping workers safe. One of the most effective ways to do this is by conducting fall hazard analysis or completing a fall hazard survey.

A fall hazard survey involves a thorough and comprehensive inspection of the workplace to identify potential hazards that could result in falls. This includes examining equipment, tools, and materials, as well as evaluating the physical environment, such as the layout or configuration of the workspace and the condition of floors, stairs, walkways, and other working platforms. The survey should be conducted by someone with expertise in fall prevention, such as a safety professional, qualified person, or fall protection competent person.

Whether it's in construction, manufacturing, or any other type of workplace, identifying and addressing fall hazards is essential to keeping workers safe.

During the survey, the inspector should look for all potential fall hazards in and around the worksite. Inspectors should also assess the potential risk to workers, considering factors such as the height of the work area, the type of work being performed, and the likelihood of workers being exposed to the hazard. Some of the most common fall hazards may include:

  • Unprotected edges: Unprotected edges, such as open-sided floors, roofs, and platforms, can be dangerous fall hazards. Workers can accidentally step off these edges or be pushed off by equipment, materials, or other workers.
  • Ladders: Ladders are a common tool in many industries, but they can also pose a significant fall hazard. Falls from ladders can be caused by using the wrong type of ladder, overreaching, and unstable placement of the ladder.
  • Scaffolding: Scaffolding is used in construction, painting, and other industries to provide workers with access to elevated areas. However, if scaffolding is improperly erected or not used correctly, it can collapse or cause workers to fall.
  • Roofs: Workers who perform tasks on roofs, such as installing solar panels or conducting maintenance, are at risk of falling off the roof or through skylights or roof openings.
  • Elevated walkways: Elevated walkways, such as catwalks, bridges, and elevated work platforms, can also be dangerous fall hazards. These walkways can be slippery, and workers may fall through openings in the walkway.
  • Unguarded machinery: Workers who operate machinery at elevated heights may be at risk of falling into the machinery or off of it. Unguarded machinery can also pose a danger to workers on the ground below.

Being proactive will not only help you prevent falls, but can significantly decrease the time that it takes to perform a rescue in the event that one is needed.

Once the survey is complete, the inspector should document their findings in a report that includes photographs or diagrams of the workplace as well as detailed descriptions of each hazard. The report should also include recommendations for corrective action, such as implementing fall protection systems, modifying work practices, or providing additional training for workers. Another consideration to include in the report is any prior history of known accidents or incidents related to the specific work area or task.

Perhaps the most commonly overlooked component of a fall hazard survey is ensuring that a documented rescue preplan is created and reviewed before beginning work. The worst time to try to develop a rescue plan is after someone has fallen! Being proactive will not only help you prevent falls, but can significantly decrease the time that it takes to perform a rescue in the event that one is needed.

OSHA provides a free fall protection plan template that can serve as an outstanding baseline for developing or improving your current fall protection plan. Additionally, you can access our Fall Hazard Survey Template here and our Rescue from Fall Protection Preplan Template here.

Whatever route you choose to implement, conducting fall hazard surveys is an essential component of an effective fall prevention program. It enables employers to identify potential hazards and take steps to eliminate or control them before an accident occurs. And remember, there’s a safe way and a SAFER way!


Additional Resources


Outstanding Safety Professional of the Year!

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Columbia Southern University recently awarded its annual Outstanding Safety Professional of the Year Award to Chris McGlynn, Roco Rescue's Director of Safety.

The Outstanding Safety Professional Award was established by CSU to recognize National Safety Month, observed in June, and to celebrate its occupational safety and health students and graduates for their commitments to safety, professionalism and their accomplishments.

csu pr oneCSU’s occupational safety and health faculty members selected McGlynn, who holds a bachelor’s degree in occupational safety and health. He is pursuing a master’s degree in the same field from the CSU. He has won several safety awards and was recently chosen to serve as president of the Baton Rouge ASSP chapter and on the group’s national advisory panel.

Click here to read the full press release.

Please join us in congratulating Chris on this incredible achievement!

Chris McGlynn is the Director of Safety/VPP Coordinator for Roco Rescue. He is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) through the Board of Certified Safety Professionals as well as a Certified Confined Space and Rope Rescue Technician, and a Nationally Registered Paramedic. As Director of Safety, Chris oversees all corporate safety initiatives, ensuring that employees at Roco have the tools and training that they need to do their work safely and effectively. He is also responsible for managing Roco's Safety Services Division, which provides trained safety professionals for turnarounds and other special projects. Finally, Chris serves as the VPP Coordinator for Roco, continuing Roco’s long-standing commitment to excellence in safety and health. Roco has been an OSHA VPP Star Worksite since 2013.

RescueTalk™ (RocoRescue.com) has been created as a free resource for sharing insightful information, news, views and commentary for our students and others who are interested in technical rope rescue. Therefore, we make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, or suitability of any information and are not liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. Users and readers are 100% responsible for their own actions in every situation. Information presented on this website in no way replaces proper training!