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2023 Roco Rescue Challenge

Saturday, April 1, 2023

Challenge 2023 Logo

Roco Rescue Challenge 2023 marks three decades of North America’s premier Rescue and Training event. Scheduled for October 18-19 at the Roco Training Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Roco Rescue Challenge is much more than a competition. At its core, it is a learning event where comradery, teamwork, and networking rule the day.

“Hosting Rescue Challenge is always the highlight of our event calendar, but as you can imagine, this year is special to us. We have been truly honored to have the rescue community support this fantastic event for 30 years…and counting,” says Kay Goodwyn, President of Roco Rescue. Ms. Goodwyn added, “We are also trying to make Rescue Challenge more enticing and affordable to municipal fire departments – we had several fire departments last year, and it was a great addition to the event!” 


In addition to learning and competition, Rescue Challenge meets the OSHA 1910.146 requirement for annual training and covers all six (6) types of confined spaces identified in the standard. However, Rescue Challenge does far more than meet those training requirements. Teams will be thoroughly challenged by the six scored scenarios — including IDLH confined space rescues on air and multi-casualty scenarios which feature live victims with moulage for that extra touch of realism and pressure.

Roco Rescue Challenge was conceived for all rescue teams, regardless of experience level. Every year first-time rescuers work alongside experienced rescue technicians who have regularly attended Rescue Challenge’s 30-year run. While there is a strong competitive element, the event focuses on building and improving skills and fostering a sense of community and camaraderie among rescuers. 

Rescue Challenge’s biggest success and value as a learning event is the immediate feedback the teams receive. Roco’s experienced training cadre provides debriefing following each scenario. Every team receives a detailed report describing their performance at Rescue Challenge and how they can improve. Teams often find that this report provides an excellent roadmap to focus their post-Rescue Challenge training regimen.

On the competitive side, there are three awards for which teams compete. Individual Performance Evaluation is awarded to the team with the highest score on a particular rescue skill or set of skills. What is that skill set? You will find out when you arrive at that station. There is a reason it's called Challenge.

challenge_sethThe second award — Team Performance Evaluation is highly coveted by attending teams. The hardware is presented to the team that travels the farthest with no safety violations on the vaunted Yellow Brick Road scenario. 

Finally, the Top Team award recognizes the team with the highest average score across all scenarios.

When the weather in South Louisiana turns to nice cool days, join us at the world-class Roco Training Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on October 18-19, 2023, to help celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Roco Rescue Challenge. Space is limited, so enroll early to assure your team’s spot. We welcome all teams, regardless of experience level. Take part in this truly unique event: part learning, competition, and all CHALLENGE.

For more information about Roco Rescue Challenge, click here. To save your spot and register, click here. Fire departments looking to challenge their rescue teams should call the Roco office (800-647-7626) for more details and savings on registration.


Additional ResourcesChallenge 2018-Day 2 114




Fire Department Scholarship Winners

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

We were so excited to see all the applicants for our Fire Department Scholarship Program – we decided to pick 10 instead of 1! The following individuals were selected to attend a Roco Urban/Industrial Rescue Essentials™ Course at no charge at the Roco Training Center in Baton Rouge. 


  • Harold Osborn / North Metro Fire Rescue – Broomfield, CO
  • Travis Proffitt / Washburn Volunteer Fire/Rescue – Washburn, TN
  • Ed Griffin / East St. Charles Fire Department – Destrehan, LA 
  • Steven Liguori / Lynbrook Fire Department – Lynbrook, NY
  • Jonathan Guerrero / Leon Valley Fire Department – Leon Valley, TX
  • Bradley Page / Madison Fire Department – Madison, MS
  • Jacob Manley / Le Mars Fire-Rescue – Le Mars, IA
  • Stevo Solaya / North Fayetteville VFD – Oakdale, PA
  • Spencer Cormier / Pointe Coupee Fire District 4 – Livonia, LA
  • Taylor Turner / Donaldsonville Fire Department – Donaldsonville, LA

We will be getting in touch with the above individual winners to share the good news and what the next step is.

fire departmentRoco Rescue hopes that this free training will help broaden the range of skills in confined space and rope rescue for firefighters and their departments.

Click button below if you are interested in applying for the next Fire Department Scholarship Program selection.


Offer valid for USA-based emergency responders only based on space availability. Must be 18 years or older and physically fit to participate in hands-on rescue exercises. Offer is valid for limited time and subject to change without notice. 


Real Rescue: Dozer Driver Buried in Wood Chip Pile at Paper Mill

Monday, March 20, 2023

In the process of making paper, everything is big. From the logs that are cut from the dense forests of the south to the giant equipment used to push through huge piles of wood chips, the sheer size of the operation poses unique challenges for the crews working in this industry. For one southern rescue team in late 2022, those challenges would test both their training and their resolve.

wood chips at mill

December weather can be tricky in the south. Warm days followed by chilly nights can make conditions on the chip pile unpredictable. When the chip pile is 50 feet tall and hundreds of feet long, small changes in the moisture level and temperature of the wood chunks can have drastic results. On this night, the operator of a D9 Dozer was working the top of the pile moving chips towards the conveyor belt that pulls the chip into the feeder from the bottom of the pile. Changing conditions above the conveyor belt often result in small void spaces or bridges that are safely pushed back down by the weight of the dozer. The workhorse of moving dirt, the D9 is a spectacular piece of equipment. Thirteen feet tall, 27 feet long, and 54 tons of pure power, the D9 easily moves over the pile to keep chips moving into the plant.

Just before 8:00 PM, the dozer operator called the plant on his cell phone. While backing along the pile, the weight of the dozer collapsed a bridge under the pile. Not the common small bridge that wouldn’t even be noticed by the operator, this one was big, beyond the comprehension of even the longest-term employees. The bridge didn’t just collapse, it consumed the dozer. 

When rescuers arrived, only the blade of the dozer was visible, and it was facing straight up toward the now-black night sky. The huge earth mover had fallen backward into the collapsing hole, the force of the impact shattering the rear window, slamming chips into the cab behind the operator. With a rapidly dying cell phone battery, the operator stated that he was trapped in complete darkness below more than 20 feet of wood chips.

paper mill stockThe rescue operation was led by a long-time member of the rescue team. Even when supervisors and safety managers arrived, the operation continued to be directed and led by that team member. The managers and safety department personnel seamlessly slipped into the roles of logistical support and safety officer. As more rescue team members arrived, the dig teams began the excavation.

Over the next 3-1/2 hours, a dozen rescuers rotated through 20-30 minute shifts moving wood chips by hand. With a now-dead cell phone, the operator was able to update the team by radio. As the rescue operation moved deeper into the night, it became apparent that the dozer operator was weakening, leading the rescue team to believe that the oxygen in the cab was being consumed at a rate that was faster than the rescue excavation.

As the hole expanded, the team needed rope systems to support their climbs in and out of the hole in the pile. Another dozer was gingerly moved to the top of the pile to create a portable anchor for the rope systems. Rescuers struggled to contain the flowing wood chip that continuously rolled back into the hole. At one point hours into the rescue, a track hoe was brought next to the pile to move the edges away to reduce roll-in material, but the bulk of the work was done by hand.

With the operator weakening, rescuers finally made it to the cab near midnight, 3-1/2 hours into the operation. With the very real possibility of a secondary collapse when the cab door was opened, the rescue team was forced to make the decision whether to open the hole wider or move the rapidly deteriorating patient now. The decision was made to make the move. A SKED stretcher was moved into position and a 3:1 mechanical advantage was built and made ready to haul. The door was opened and rescuers made entry into the cab, quickly transferring the patient to the SKED who was then hauled up the slope of the excavation.

The dozer operator was transferred to EMS who transported him to a local hospital where he was treated for symptoms of heat stroke, dehydration, and mild hypoxia. He was treated and later released with no long-term issues. The safety manager credits the operator’s off-shore helicopter crash survival simulator training with keeping him calm and preserving the air supply in the cab.

Roco Rescue was honored to present this talented and dedicated rescue team with the Roco “Real Rescue” plaque. Their dogged determination and training resulted in a great outcome for a very lucky heavy equipment operator.


Real Rescue Plaque

Roco Would Like to Recognize Your Outstanding Rope Rescue!

Nominate your rescue team for a free 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.


Municipal Emergency Responders Show Appreciation

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

brfd logo

Roco Rescue was the proud recipient of a support and dedication award from the Baton Rouge Fire Department recently in a ceremony conducted at the Roco Training Center in Baton Rouge. Fire Chief Michael Kimble and Paul Stockstill presented the plaque to Chris Carlsen, Director of Training for Roco Rescue, along with several Roco Instructors.

“We wanted to give Roco something to thank them for all that they have done to help BRFD bring their rescue training to the next level,” Chief Kimble said. He added, “We share a common mission to keep emergency responders trained to respond safer and more effectively.”

Roco will continue its efforts to maximize support for municipal emergency responder wherever we can. Roco has the unique opportunity to influence not only the regulatory frameworks that shape the rescue industry, but also the techniques that are used by emergency responders on a daily basis.

This plaque from the BRFD acknowledges Roco’s on-going efforts to support emergency responders and is therefore very special to us. It is an honor to be recognized.




Your Rescue Gear Will Soon Have New NFPA Markings

Monday, March 13, 2023

NFPA has started a process of grouping related standards into one volume. For example, it has now grouped NFPA 1983, 1858, and 1670 into one volume, NFPA 2500, “Operations and Training for Technical Search and Rescue Incidents and Life Safety Rope and Equipment for Emergency Services.”

NFPA 2500

So, NFPA 2500 will include all three of these standards. However, NPFA 1006 “Professional Qualifications for Technical Rescuers” still remains a separate document.

PMI LogoAccording to a blog post by CEO Loui McCurley of PMI, one of the most noticeable changes will probably be on equipment that will now be marked with NFPA 2500 instead of NFPA 1983. NFPA has decided to include the old standard numbers as a reference. For example, equipment previously would have been marked:

                                    NFPA 1983 (2017 ED)

It will now look more like this…

                                    NFPA 2500 (1983) 2022 ED

There will be a “G”, “T” or “E” to indicate General Use, Technical Use or Escape.

The big change is that as of Spring 2023, manufacturers must stop selling equipment marked to the 2017 edition of 1983. Retailers will still be able to sell the equipment until their stocks are depleted.

Your next question might be, “Will users be required to switch to the new NFPA 2500 marked equipment?” Or, “When must I stop using NFPA 1983 marked equipment?”

There is no NFPA requirement that says you have to use or buy equipment meeting the most current version of any standard. Ms. McCurley indicates that the good news is that there were not significant technical changes to the standard, so most all equipment properly certified to NFPA 1983 (2017) will also meet the NFPA 2500 (2022) standard.

NFPA new markings


Thank you to Loui McCurley, CEO of PMI, for providing the reference material here. Several videos about this topic are available at www.pmirope.com.


Additional Resources

Confined Space Rescue Chart

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!