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Roco Reviews the New CMC Triskelion™ Tripod

Wednesday, July 21, 2021
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Triskelion. The name is as old as the concept, three legs coming together to a common point and sharing a load concentrated in the center of those three legs. There are numerous examples of the tripod in Greek, Chinese and Roman history. When it evolved into a design that could be moved, adjusted where needed, and used to create an overhead anchor, we started paying attention. Fast forward a millennium and the concept really has not changed. In the world of work and rescue, we are still picking things up and putting them down using tripods. 

The most common tripod is the rectangular leg design that is popular with work crews covering a multitude of industries. Usually there is a bracket mounted on one leg to accept a cable winch and a couple of head-mounted pulleys in line to run that cable over. This keeps the resultant forces within the footprint and makes them very stable when loaded properly. They are designed to support a single user with a maximum capacity of 310 lbs. and WLL (working load limit) of 350 lbs. The legs are adjustable in height and come with a chain hobble. Workers all over the world are hanging below these tripods as you read this. 

With the new Triskelion™ Industrial Rescue Tripod, CMC has taken that rectangle tube leg design and utilized it for rescue. If your rules of engagement require NFPA compliance with your equipment, you will be pleased to know that the Triskelion is the first industrial rescue tripod to receive an NFPA General Use rating. 

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Roco recently got a chance to put our hands on one and put it through some testing and team reps with a couple of progressive fire departments in Idaho and New Mexico, as well as at the Roco Training Center in Baton Rouge. Firefighters can be tough on gear, but right out of the box they commented on its look and solid feel. Once in use, it didn’t take us long to discover that rescuers wanted to get their hands on the Triskelion as soon as possible. 

We beat it up, we used it hard and rough, and it performed – it really performed. When loading it as a traditional tripod with a block and tackle, it locks in tight. It locks into a never-moving position like a 35-year-old living in his parents’ basement, playing Clash of Clans. He is not moving, and neither is the Triskelion. When the Triskelion is loaded correctly, it is incredibly stable. It is also incredibly quiet. For those who spend any time using work tripods, you are already familiar with that cringe-worthy feeling you get hearing the tripod creak and grind as it hopefully settles into a strong supportive position. The Triskelion is a touch more stoic. It stands up strong and keeps its mouth shut. 

Despite its robust size, the Triskelion is smooth in its operation. If the CMC crew wants to send over the names of the brilliant engineering team members who set the pin location on the legs, we can find the time to buy them a round of drinks. With its new design, we think it’s the best on the market. The rectangular legs are set up with stoppers so that whether you are all the way down, or all the way extended, the pinholes are lined up. Such a simple feature, but one that quickly became a favorite of the Roco teams that used it. 

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The tethered pins are big and user-friendly with ball-locks, but with big pins come big holes so be careful you don’t slip a finger into one while adjusting! Graphics and adjustment markers on the legs are bold and easy to see, making coordination a breeze. The days of struggling to pin the legs at height are over. 

The head-mounted pulleys are low profile and well protected. We used one of them rigged with one of our favorite Tripod systems to perform a shaft rescue (think English Reeve without the track lines and control lines). 

The low profile of the pulley and the elimination of swing from not having to hang a pulley on both sides created a very compact and stable shaft system. The low-profile system also provides additional headspace when bringing out a vertical litter. 

Roco Rescue | Vertical Sked litter raise with CMC Triskelion tripodA group in an open enrollment Roco class in Baton Rouge used the Triskelion to bring up a vertical Sked and had over a foot of clearance left when the feet cleared due to the increased headspace. And just in case you didn’t get all your rigging right before you raised the Triskelion to its 10ft. maximum height, the optional footsteps ensure you can still reach to add, change, or delete anything you need. CMC also offers winch mounting solutions for the excellent Harkin Lokhead winch as well as DBI/Sala offerings. 

The storage bag is reinforced on each end and features sewn handles for a two-person carry. There is also a padded shoulder strap, which you will appreciate if trying to carry alone. The straps are offset towards the head to compensate for the extra weight the Triskelion carries up top. 

Special thanks to the City of Nampa Fire Department and Albuquerque Fire Rescue for contributing and providing feedback. Many of us came into this evaluation thinking, “how good can it be?” and we finished by asking, “when can we get one?”

If you are interested in purchasing the new Triskelion Tripod, you can order from our online store, call us at (800) 647-7626, or order via email at info@RocoRescue.com.ROC003-July-Social-v1roco-fb-insta-4

Sked Stretcher...Celebrating 40 Years and Still the Best!

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Few rescue devices have saved more lives than the Sked Stretcher – and it’s literally saved thousands of lives. And, after almost 40 years, it’s still the most compact, versatile stretcher on the market. In reality, it has become a staple item in rescue that is used by thousands of emergency responders around the globe including the U.S. military.

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Roco recently talked with the owners of Skedco to get a little more history on this unique rescue system. According to Bud Calkin, “Skedco has been on a lifesaving mission since 1981 – and while there have been numerous improvements to the Sked over the years, it is still a simple, effective tool for rescuers.” Co-owner Catherine Calkin adds, “Skedco is definitely all about supporting emergency responders, both civilian and military. We’re also about providing a good place to work for our employees. People depend on us; we can’t let them down.”

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We asked a number of questions about the origins of the Sked stretcher as well as how the device is produced, tested and used in the field. Here’s more of our discussion…

Roco: Of course, the first question is how many Sked stretchers do you estimate that you've made over the years? And, how many rescues?

Skedco: Way over a half-million; we produce and ship thousands every year to places around the world. There’s no way to know exactly how many rescues have been performed with the Sked, but we estimate in the thousands.

Roco: What's a day like at Skedco with the manufacturing of the Sked?

Skedco: Busy. We try to have at least 500 standard and HMH Skeds ready to box up and ship at all times. We never know when different governments will place big orders; and, of course, they always expect very prompt shipping. But having these in stock also means that other customers get the same quick shipping times.

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Roco: What gave you the idea for the Sked stretcher?

Skedco: After struggling with all types of rescue litters in the Army and wanting to evacuate a wounded soldier over long distances by myself, I eventually redesigned a game carrier invented by my sister for dragging a deer from the point of kill. After extensive research on plastics and other materials, I built the first Sked. I drew the design around a very heavy guy, and it has never changed – although there are several variations now and I am close to fielding one more for the military.

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Roco: How long did the research and development of the Sked take?

Skedco: Considering the evolution and expansion of capabilities, it was about 5 years. We made changes as needs appeared along the way. Today, there are 8 versions of Sked.

Roco: What makes the Sked so perfect for rescue?

Skedco: Its compactness, versatility, durability and ease of use.

Roco: How do you test the Sked?

Skedco: There were a number of tests that I did on the Sked including “cold crack” testing to
minus 120 degrees; pull testing on the grommets in the plastic; drop-testing; environmental testing of the plastic; chemical absorption testing of the plastic; and pull-testing of all sewn webbing. And I myself was inside the stretcher during in-use field testing of all functions. I felt that if it wasn’t safe for me, then I could not trust the device for others. I had to have faith in the product, or I wouldn’t have produced it.

Roco: What type of plastic is used in making the Sked? And how strong is it?

Skedco: The Sked is made from a proprietary formula of E-Z glide polyethylene plastic. This plastic can withstand temperatures as low as minus 120 degrees without becoming brittle. It has proven to be tough enough to withstand being run over by a 56-ton tank – and then used to drag a soldier around a military base over extremely rough terrain for more than 10 miles! The greatest weight we've heard a Sked carrying was a 1,347 lb. individual. What’s more, there was no damage to the Sked afterward.

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Roco: How is the military version of the Sked different from the civilian version?

Skedco: The military has its own unique specifications for the Sked. It is designed specifically for the battlefield. This includes more subdued coloring; and, in some cases, the stretcher is narrower and shorter for extremely tight spaces and for carrying long distances when size is a problem. However, the plastic material is the same as the civilian version.

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Roco: What is the most unique rescue that has been performed using a Sked stretcher?

Skedco: I think the most unusual and demanding rescue was the cave rescue in Thailand a couple of years ago when 12 kids and their soccer coach were rescued. Nobody thought it could be done but they finally got permission to proceed. The Air Force Pararescue guys out of Okinawa and the Thai Navy Seals performed the rescue. There was an Australian anesthesiologist who mixed the drug combination so the boys could be kept sedated during each rescue evolution. This rescue operation required hundreds of people for support including staging and maintenance of equipment, pumping water from parts of the cave, rigging of rope systems, searching for the boys and providing food and water for the boys. It was a massive effort, and a huge success – we are grateful to have played a role.

Roco: Speaking of water rescue applications, what makes up this specialized version?

Skedco: There is a special floatation system for using the stretcher in water. The system is designed to keep the Sked upright in water. If it gets capsized, it will self-right. Patient packaging in the water takes as little as 20 seconds by only one person.

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Roco: Do you ever hear from patients who have been rescued using a Sked?

Skedco: Very seldom; but when I do, I get some of the most bizarre stories about it!

Roco: How has the Sked improved over the years?

Skedco: There have been many improvements and additions to the original Sked stretcher. Examples include a flotation system, spinal immobilization, better ropes, carabiners, webbing and carrying bag. For the Hazmat/hospital version, I used polypropylene webbing and military-grade plastic side-release buckles for safety in chemical environments. The newer Sked units include Austrian-made Skedco/Cobra side-release buckles, which are extremely strong and durable – and much easier to use.

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Roco: What are your thoughts about the future of the Sked stretcher? Any changes or revisions anticipated?

Skedco: As a matter of fact, I am currently designing 2 new Skeds for the military. Final testing will be done within the next few months.

Roco: What are your thoughts about the future of technical rope rescue?

Skedco: There will always be a need for Technical Rope Rescue – because people continue to get themselves into the most difficult places and in the most dangerous environments. Many times, there are injuries with desperate need of medical care. Thankfully, there are special people who will risk their own lives to save them from these deadly situations; and there are companies like Roco who do the training for those dangerous events.


Roco salutes the entire Skedco team for their many years of service as they approach their 40th anniversary later this year. We also asked what makes it all worthwhile – the many long hours, the never-ending testing and the continuing advancements to the Sked. Founder Bud Calkin stated, “It’s simple. We are extremely privileged to be able to provide a specialized tool needed to perform oftentimes extreme rescues and to know so many hundreds of rescue personnel from around the world who risk their lives on a regular basis to save others. To borrow a phrase from US Air Force Pararescue, ‘That others may live.’ After all, isn't that what it’s all about?”

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Q & A with Roco Chief Instructors About 2021 Training Courses

Friday, February 12, 2021

My team has always attended the Roco Industrial I/II, will team members attending the new Urban/Industrial Rescue Essentials™ course have difficulty fitting in with the team?

Troy-Gardner-headshot-w-Roco-hat-editNot at all. The concept of the Urban/Industrial Rescue Essentials course is still focused around producing a well-rounded, proficient rescuer. The primary differences you will notice center around streamlining the techniques utilized by rescuers to be more proficient in “must have” skills, use of updated equipment created through advances in technology, and performing as a member of a team. One of the primary reasons for the course evolving is to provide students with the ability to return as a better TEAM MEMBER and not just a proficient rescuer.

– Chief Instructor Troy Gardner

I previously attended an Industrial I/II course, but it has been several years. What are some of the differences the Urban/Industrial Rescue Essentials course provides?

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There are several noticeable differences you will find in the Urban/Industrial Rescue Essentials course. The biggest difference you will notice is with the equipment utilized during training. The technological advances in rescue equipment over the last several years are impressive to say the least and offer a safe and more efficient approach to rescue.

For example, the Petzl I’D has been the staple of rescue operations for two decades now. It is hard to find a rescue team that does not utilize the I’D as their primary device, or at least knows of its capabilities. Petzl introduced the Maestro in 2020 which dramatically increased the efficiency of our rescue systems with an intuitive design and ease of functionality that makes it well-received by the beginner and the experienced rescuer alike. Also, devices like the ASAP Lock fit the need of being an engineered safety device while increasing the efficiency and reliability of the operator.

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We also recognized, through input from our instructors, that rescuers would benefit by replacing skills that required continuous practice, such as diamond lashing for patient packaging, with manufactured systems like CMC’s Patient Tie-in System. This allows new rescuers the ability to gain confidence and proficiency by using a simple system vs. trying to absorb more advanced skills and still perform the tasks.

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Our instructors also recognized the need for students new to rescue to gain a true understanding of how important proper belaying is for safety. To build proficiency in this skill, students are required to “belay a falling load” where they learn the skills necessary to safely and effectively “catch” the load using various techniques.There are several other exciting changes we have made that will benefit the student and produce a higher level of rescuer.

 – Director of Training Chris Carlsen

I work at a fire department that does not respond to any industrial facilities. Would I benefit from attending the Urban/Industrial Rescue Essentials course?

Brad Warr, Roco RescueChoosing the right rescue class can be a daunting task. At Roco Rescue, our instructor cadre is well represented by the fire service and would like to include a few questions for you to think about when determining which course you should attend.  

  • Does your response area have multiple story structures that could present difficulties assisting occupants during emergencies using standard means of egress?
  • Do road crews, utility workers or telecommunication industries in your area perform activities above and/or below ground?
  • Have you ever packaged a patient onto a backboard in a cluttered back bedroom and struggled to get them out? only to find that moving the now boarded patient will be extremely difficult utilizing traditional means?
  • Have you ever pushed your SCBA personal skills to their limits in really tight spaces?
  • Has your crew struggled to move a heavy load that left you wondering if there was an easier way?

If you have ever had any of these questions come up, or one of the many other related questions that apply to fire departments across the globe, then Roco’s Urban/Industrial Rescue Essentials should be at the top of your list. It addresses both the needs of municipal (urban) rescue as well as that of industrial or manufacturing facilities.

– Chief Instructor Brad Warr

The Industrial I/II course was already a full week with a lot to learn. Will my team members struggle to keep up in the new program?

Eddie Chapa, Roco RescueNot at all. In fact, we believe you will have rescue team members returning to your organization with a higher level of retention than ever before. There are some incredible new advancements in equipment and techniques out there, which make it even easier for the novice to acquire the skills to become a proficient rescuer.

Urban/Industrial Rescue Essentials™ has been streamlined to provide a stronger emphasis on key areas of instruction. We have also incorporated numerous improvements in teaching methodology as recommended by our most experienced Roco instructors. This allows students to gain more repetitions in needed skills and retain a higher level of information.

Our goal is to make a better, more prepared rescuer. We believe the new Urban/Industrial Rescue Essentials™ from Roco will do just that.

– Chief Instructor Eddie Chapa

Will sending our rescue team members to the Urban and Industrial Essentials course meet OSHA requirements for confined space rescue?

Chris Carlsen, Roco RescueAlthough OSHA does not provide a specific checklist of the skills or exact performance objectives required to be deemed a competent rescuer, 1910.146 Permit Required Confined Spaces does give us some guidance of what a rescuer should be. In 1910.146 (k)(1)(iii)(A) it states that a rescuer shall “Have the ability to reach the victim(s) within a time frame that is appropriate for the permit space hazards(s) identified”. 1910.146(k)(1)(iii)(B) further states that the rescuer shall be “equipped for and proficient in performing the needed rescue services”.

The Roco Essentials™ course is designed for developing a rescuer who is confident and proficient in the skills necessary to perform rescues in both urban and industrial environments. This ensures that students will be able to return to their team and execute the required tasks necessary to expedite rescue efforts safely and effectively.

OSHA 1910.146(k)(1)(ii) also requires that the host employer “evaluate” a rescue team’s ability – in terms of proficiency with rescue-related tasks and equipment, and the ability to function appropriately while rescuing entrants from the particular permit space or types of permit spaces identified. Urban/Industrial Rescue Essentials courses conducted at the Roco Training Center provide students with realistic scenarios from all six (6) confined space types, including elevated vessels and towers. The course also includes simulated rescue from IDLH atmospheres requiring the use of SCBA. These scenarios can be used to document a team’s practice requirements listed under 1910.146.

– Director of Training Chris Carlsen

I would really like to send our team members to a Roco certification class, but we do not have the time or funding to dedicate to a Fast-Track course. Is the Urban/Industrial Rescue Essentials course a good compromise?

Kenny Greene, Roco RescueI would not consider the Roco Essentials™ course a compromise by any means. It is a building block of rescue knowledge that your team can use to create highly proficient rescuers. The course is designed to give the rescuer confidence in many of the skills needed to obtain certification to NFPA 1006 by utilizing a very heavy “hands-on” approach to training. Rescuers who attend the Urban/Industrial Rescue Essentials course not only obtain a high level of proficiency in these skills, but they also gain a great understanding of what it takes to make a Rescue Team effective. Rescuers completing this course can also achieve Rescue Technician certification by attending our Confined Space Rescue Technician course.

– Chief Instructor Kenny Greene

 

Is the Petzl Maestro Good for Industrial Rescue?

Monday, November 16, 2020

By Brad Warr, Roco Rescue Chief Instructor

Question: “I noticed that some mountain rescue teams are making the switch to the Petzl Maestro descent device – is this something an industrial rescue team should consider?”

Thanks for the great question. It’s been almost a year since the Petzl Maestro has been on the market, and we have noticed a big uptick in back country teams adopting the Maestro as their primary anchored descend control device. In fact, many of our instructors’ own home-based rescue teams have already made the switch to the Maestro and many of these teams respond to mountain rescue calls.

Petzl_Maestro_RocoTrainingCenter_1To decide whether the Maestro would be a good choice for an urban/industrial rescue team, let’s look at why a mountain rescue team would choose the Maestro. Mountain and back country rescue teams covet light weight, easily transportable equipment. Smaller diameter ropes, lightweight carabiners, pulleys and rope grabs are the norm when you must pack in your own gear. Anyone that has hefted a Petzl Maestro would never consider the device to be petite. At nearly two and a half pounds, the device is far from the featherlight kit usually found in back country response packs. Yet despite the rotund nature of the device, it continues to find its way into the equipment caches that ride on the shoulders of mountain rescue teams. That says a lot about how these teams feel about the Maestro’s performance.

The “intuitive nature” of the Maestro is one of the descender’s strong suits. This is also one of the reasons we chose it for use in our new entry level Roco Urban/Industrial Rescue Essentials™ course. Often attended by brand new rescuers taking their first steps into technical rescue, the Maestro was the perfect fit. At the completion of the first 50-hour course, all Roco instructors commented on how much easier it was to train new rescuers to use the Petzl Maestro compared to other popular descent control devices. It allowed our students to progress quickly while increasing their safety as well.

Petzl_Maestro_RocoTrainingCenter_2Mountain rescue teams are also very aware of the corollary between “friction management” and system efficiency. When you are working in small teams with potential for lots of friction running over rock and dirt, a device that can greatly increase friction reduction during hauls is very appealing. The Maestro delivers friction reduction in spades. The faceted sheave in the Maestro delivers up to 95% pulley efficiency.

The Maestro’s ease of use, consistent control and efficient operation were a few of the reasons we chose it for our courses. While Roco’s advanced classes delve into other personal and anchored descenders, we feel the Maestro gives the highest likelihood of success for new and experienced rescuers. The Petzl name behind the device gives us confidence in its dependability.

As an Urban/Industrial rescuer, we can take the experiences of top mountain rescue teams in the country to heart. If they are willing to carry the extra weight of the Maestro based on its performance, then perhaps we should carefully consider the Maestro as our primary choice for descent control.

To learn more about the Petzl Maestro, read our full review or join us for one of our newly designed rescue courses for 2021. Roco’s new Urban/Industrial Rescue Essentials™ 50-hour entry level course strives to create rescue team members that can contribute from Day 1.

Check out our current open-enrollment course schedule for upcoming training dates, or review our complete course descriptions to find the right course for your needs.

 

Brad Warr

Brad Warr is a Chief Instructor for Roco Rescue and a Captain at the Nampa Fire Department. Brad joined Roco Rescue in 2003, teaching a wide variety of technical rescue classes including rope rescue, confined space rescue, trench rescue, and structural collapse. Brad became a firefighter for the Nampa Fire Department in 1998 and was promoted to Captain in 2006. Before joining the fire department, Brad worked for three years as an Emergency Response Technician for a large computer chip manufacturer in Boise, Idaho, where he was responsible for OSHA compliance, emergency medical response, confined space/rope rescue response and hazardous materials response.

The Roco RDX®: Designed to Make Fast Roping Safer

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

An Innovation from Roco Rescue’s Ish Antonio

Pat Furr: Today I have the pleasure of interviewing one of my Roco Rescue colleagues, Ish Antonio who manages our Tactical Division. Ish will be telling us about the Roco RDX® which is a device that was developed in our Tactical Division and is used during helicopter fast rope insertions.Tactical operators fast roping from a helicopterThis is not a device that would be used in your typical rescue effort, but for certain tactical operators, it makes their job significantly safer without compromising their speed of insertion.

Ish and I have known and worked together for nearly 40 years now, first as US Air Force Pararescuemen (PJs), and the last 19+ years with Roco Rescue. Our career paths in the Air Force were pretty intertwined, with Ish and I being assigned at the same unit a couple of times, and also with Ish assigned to a unit that provided fixed wing support for our helicopter squadron. In other words, we have a long history as both teammates and friends.

Ish has always been on the leading edge of coming up with innovative solutions to the operator’s needs. The Roco RDX is just such an innovation and I will let Ish explain what it does and how it works.

Ish Antonio: First, let’s talk about fast roping. We often arrive at the scene of an op by means of a helicopter, and frequently we can’t land the helicopter due to obstructions on the ground, or the landing zone is just too small, such as a rooftop in an urban environment. There are several options to get the operators inserted. They can be hoisted in using the aircraft hoist. They can rappel in using traditional rappel techniques. Or for large teams or for increased speed, the fast rope operation is the preferred method.  

The fast rope technique uses a two and a half inch braided rope that is attached to a highpoint at the aircraft exit. The difference between a fast rope insertion and being hoisted or rappel, is that with a fast rope, there is no positive attachment between the rope and the operator. 

So in essence, when you fast rope, you are holding on for dear life in the truest sense. Think of sliding down an old school fireman’s pole, only from much higher and usually at night with a lot of gear strapped to your body.

A lot of operators have been seriously hurt or worse with this technique due to missing the rope, falling off the rope, being knocked off the rope by a teammate, or being trampled at the ground by teammates landing on top. For most, the greatest hazard is exiting the aircraft and getting a good grip on the rope. It is a leap of faith and at night, on NVGs (night vision goggles), with a load of equipment and a line of teammates behind you, the potential to miss the rope is pretty high. Generally the aircraft will maintain about 5 knots of forward airspeed to avoid a dogpile at the bottom, but on tight LZ’s (landing zones) like the bridge of a ship or tight rooftop, it has to be in a stable hover and that’s when we have the potential for a dogpile. But the tradeoff is it gets the team inserted in minimal time and reduces the aircraft time on target.

PF: What is the RDX and how does it make fast roping safer for the operators as well as the canines?

IA: When we were active duty, we had our med kits, combat kit, survival vest or load bearing equipment, and other assorted odds and ends. It seems nowadays our operators are not only bigger, but they are loading out with much more and heavier kit. So the potential for coming off the fast rope is greater than ever.

The first version of a device to make fast roping safer is called the FREDS and it was developed about 15 years ago by a PJ named Tracy Barnet. The FREDS is a metal plate about the size of a dinner plate with integral friction bars much like a brake rack. To descend you had to actually lift the fast rope up to reduce tension. So, if you were in a higher hover or if there were people on the rope below you, then you would not be able to descend.

I got involved with the USAF Guardian Angel (GA) Program which you were also a part of, and I had already had an idea for a next generation device based on the alpine sandal wrap. Part of the GA Program was our heavy and light extrication packages which were both quite heavy. Add to that the K9 teams with a 60+ pound dog, and we are just adding more and more weight to the operator’s load, so we needed a device that would provide that positive connection, the added safety of a controlled descent, but would not require the rope below to be clear of personnel or so heavy that the weight would prevent the  FREDS from descending. I didn’t push the idea for the Roco Double X (RDX) because everyone seemed happy with the FREDS. But as the load outs got heavier I wanted to provide a better device that was safer and also was able to function with a loaded fast rope.

The name RDX is short for “Roco Double X” and is so named because it is based on the Sandal Wrap, which is a friction knot and forms an X behind the rope and a second X in front of the rope. RDX in position on a rope, with logo

I’m fortunate to live near the Pararescue (PJ) School at Kirtland AFB and have access to their training tower. The PJs were very interested in this project so they were great at supporting us with access to the tower for development testing. After performing hundreds of fast ropes on the various prototypes we developed, starting with ½” kernmantle, we evolved to the PMI Aramid type Technora rope which handles the heat that is generated much better than Dacron rope. The Technora will handle upwards of 700 degrees Fahrenheit before seeing any adverse effects and we will never approach that level of heat generation, even with the longest fast ropes and heaviest weights. So I am comfortable saying it is over engineered for this type of application.

PF: Can you describe in a bit more detail the configuration of the RDX?

IA: The actual length of the RDX is just a shade over 41 inches. I originally had a handle at the apex of the RDX positioned right at the mid-point which is where you start the sandal wrap and then wrap downwards. The original handle wasn’t allowing us to modulate the speed of descent the way we wanted it to, so we changed to a friction pad wrapped in Nomex mounted in the same position which gives us the exact amount of control we were looking for.

PF: The RDX is actually quite a simple device. It is essentially a length of Technora rope sewn together to form a loop with the friction pad. How do you connect?

IA: That’s what is so great about this device. Because it’s a continuous loop which forms two closed loops at each end, we simply bring those two loops together at the bottom of the sandal wrap and clip in there.

The beauty of the RDX is it’s small enough to fit in a cargo pocket but it’s rated at over 22 kN so it can also be used as an anchor sling for other rope operations.

PF: So it’s not a one trick pony.

IA: Exactly. It can be used for multiple functions and it is much cheaper to produce than the FREDS - which is a one trick pony. The FREDS still has its place, but for personal use and the fact that the RDX is multi-function, we feel it’s the better choice.

PF: Who would be the primary users of this device?

IA: The US Navy has really gotten onboard with it and the K9 guys especially. The word is still getting out on the RDX but for any unit that uses fast rope, especially when loaded with a heavy kit or a dog, the RDX provides a simple and safe means of infiltration. Military operator fast roping with K9

PF: This sounds like a great device. So what are the potential downsides to using it?

IA: Keep in mind that the RDX forms a knot around the fast rope, so just like any knot, it requires initial training and proficiency maintenance training in order for it to be effective. That being said, the sandal knot is a very simple knot to tie and to remember how to tie.

PF: Will the RDX work on any fast rope?

IA: That’s a great question. The short answer is yes it will. We have tested it on virtually every fast rope that is being manufactured. The point to keep in mind is that fast ropes are generally in the range of two and a half inch diameter, but there is some variation in those diameters and in the coarseness of the weave as well as the materials used. So the RDX will perform slightly differently depending on the fast rope it’s mounted to. But it will certainly perform as we intended.

PF: Do you recommend training with the RDX mounted to the rope that you will be using operationally?

IA: Yes, in a perfect world that’s the best plan. But sometimes we end up operating with a unit that uses a different fast rope than the one we use at our unit. If possible, it’s best to at least do some ground training off a tower with that rope. But if that’s not available, it will perform reasonably similar between the different ropes.  

PF: For me, the most dangerous part of fast roping was exiting the bird and getting a good grip on the rope.

IA: This is where the RDX really helps, especially for the operators with the bulkier, heavier loads and especially when you are maneuvering a 60+ pound K9 out of the airframe. The operator connects to the RDX prior to exit and thus has a positive connection and will not come off the rope. If they miss their grip, no worry as they will not start their descent until they handle the RDX on descent.

PF: Should the RDX be used for every operator on the infil?

IA: No, that’s not the intent. It’s really intended for the guys that have the extra heavy loads or the K9s. Everyone else just employs standard fast rope techniques. Ish Antonio, Roco Rescue Tactical Program Manager

PF: What if you have multiple guys on the stick that have heavy loads or K9s?

IA: This is one of the benefits of the RDX. You can preposition them on the rope. Simply wrap them into the sandal wrap and attach a carabiner and they will stay in place. So if you have three guys on the stick that should use the RDX, stack three of them at the top of the rope, everyone else exits normally and the last three can quickly clip in one at a time and descend under control.

PF: What other features does the RDX include?

IA: We have a tether attached to the RDX with a quick release which also connects to the top of the fast rope with a girth hitch. This prevents the pre-rigged RDX from moving until it’s released. It’s important to ensure the tether is attached to the top of the fast rope and not to the airframe so the fast rope can be cut away once everyone is on the ground. The operator uses that tether while connecting to the RDX with the carabiner. Once he is connected he leans into the RDX to ensure that it’s positively connected and then releases the tether just before exit.

PF: Who do you see as your market for the RDX?

IA: The US Navy has adopted it and so have most of the Air Force PJ teams. But it’s still relatively new and I think it will take some time before the US Special Operations Command, and other federal and state agencies such as SWAT or similar federal assets get to know it. Our biggest orders right now are coming from Europe. The European special operators are more aligned with general alpinism and understand friction knots and know all about things like auto-blocks. They use them all the time, so the RDX makes perfect sense to them.

PF: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat today, Ish. Are there any last thoughts you would like to share about the Roco RDX?

IA: Our goal was to give the operators something that allows them to perform their mission with the degree of speed they need while at the same time adding a significant improvement in safety. We feel the RDX hits both those marks.

Editor's Note:

To see a 1-page pdf with pictures and key features:

https://www.rocorescue.com/product/rdx

To see a detailed video demonstrating many features of the Roco RDX, check out the video below from our YouTube channel:

 

 

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