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Fire Department Scholarship Program

Friday, January 20, 2023

fire departmentAs part of our efforts to support municipal emergency responders, Roco Rescue will be offering quarterly scholarships to our open-enrollment 50-hour Rescue Essentials Courses conducted at the Roco Training Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. To be considered, applicants will complete an online form and explain why they are interested in attending a course and how it will benefit them and their department. One student will be selected per quarter. 

Urban/Industrial Rescue Essentials™ Course:

  • This 50-hour course is the starting point for rescuers working on rope and in confined spaces. This hands-on training course is for rescuers who respond to emergencies ranging from the depths of a confined space to the heights of an elevated structure or industrial platform.
  • Participants will be provided an opportunity to become proficient at utilizing some of the most current equipment in the rescue world while learning and practicing safe, efficient, and proven rescue techniques. These skills will allow them to perform effectively in the rigorous environments faced by urban and industrial rescuers.
  • Courses will be conducted at the Roco Training Center (RTC), participants will practice rescue operations from all six (6) confined space types including rescues from elevated vessels and towers. Simulated rescues from IDLH-type atmospheres that require the use of breathing air (SCBA) will also be included. These realistic scenarios can be used to document annual practice requirements as required by OSHA 1910.146.

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


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. 


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Rescue Challenge 2022

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Roco Instructor Team22

Rescue Challenge 2022 finally returned after a two-year hiatus due to pandemic restrictions. The Roco Rescue Challenge has been an ongoing event since 1989. From inception, Rescue Challenge was meant to be far more than just a rescue “competition” that is all about trophies and bragging rights. It’s more about learning and sharing ideas. Rescue Challenge respects the risks—and yes, challenges—that are posed by the confined space environment. This year’s event had a great mix of industrial and municipal teams; and for many of the teams, it was their first Rescue Challenge.

This year teams were tasked with six confined space and high angle rescue scenarios found in industrial and urban settings. Teams also faced off head-to-head in the Team Performance Evaluation (TPE). Finally, team members showed off their skills in the Individual Performance Evaluation (IPE). All Challenge scenarios are designed to have teaching goals that require different rescue and rigging skills. They included simulated IDLH rescue entries with the use of SAR and SCBA equipment. Also included were single-person and multi-casualty scenarios with a mix of manikins and live victims as patients.

Congratulations to this year’s teams for rising to meet the many unique scenarios that the event presented. The experience gained from Rescue Challenge, together with continued training and practice, will make for safer facilities (and communities) these teams serve, in turn providing safer places for everyone who works there.


Challenge 2022 Participants:

Baton Rouge Fire Department Team 1 – Baton Rouge, LA

Baton Rouge Fire Department Team 2 – Baton Rouge, LA

Bossier City Fire Department – Bossier City, LA
BossierFD Team22final

CF Industries – Donaldsonville, LA
CFI Team22final

CHS McPherson Refinery McPherson, KS
CHS Team22final

Exxon BRPO – Baton Rouge, LA

BRPO Team22final

Some of the exceptional performances this year included:
CF Industries: “Top Team” Overall Highest Average for All Scenarios.
Baton Rouge Fire Department Team 1: 1st Place Individual Performance Evaluation Station.
Bossier City Fire Department: 1st Place Team Performance Evaluation Station.

To see more highlights from this years event click here.

If you missed this year’s Rescue Challenge, join us next year on October 18-19, 2023, at the Roco Training Center in Baton Rouge. Every year our instructors devise new surprise obstacles to challenge teams with hurdles they’ve never tackled before.

Is your team “Rescue Challenge ready?”





Roco QUICK DRILL #15 - Personal Skills Challenge (Advanced)

Thursday, September 15, 2022


 Each participant would be given all necessary equipment to complete the required tasks. Depending on the number of participants, and equipment on hand, evaluators would build the desired number of lanes to operate. Once participants have had a chance to look over the equipment, and ask any questions, evaluators would give each a set time to complete all tasks (e.g., 15 minutes). 

Once time is started, each participant would complete the following:

  1. Build a fixed line system (evaluators would run a safety line and have the participant focus on main line systems only) and rappel down a single floor.
  2. Once on the deck, participants would hook up a patient/package to the main line.
    1. Patient can be a manikin in a Sked/stokes or a live victim in a harness.
    2. It could be an option to have the participant actually package the patient (would add more time to scenario, but would be good practice).
    3. Any other package could be used in place of a patient, this is up to the organizers.
  3. Once the patient/package is secured to the main line (again, the participant is not responsible for a secondary line), the participant would ascend back up to the starting point using their preferred method. 
  4. Upon completion of the ascending portion, the participant would disconnect the fixed line system and create a hauling system to bring the patient/package up the single floor. 
    1. Evaluators/other participants would assist with transitioning the patient/package over the edge for safety.
    2. Participants could either be allowed to choose a high or low-point anchor, or be given directions to use a specific anchor. This is up to the evaluator.
    3. Tag line personnel could be provided if necessary.
  5. Once the patient/package has been placed securely on the deck, the participant would transition the hauling system to a lowering system and lower the patient/package back to the starting point.
    1. As with the hauling system, evaluators/other participants would assist with transitioning the patient/package over the edge until system is loaded. 
    2. Participants could either be allowed to choose a high or low-point anchor, or be given directions to use a specific anchor. This is up to the evaluator.
    3. Tag line personnel could be provided if needed.
  6. When the patient/package is securely back to the starting point, the exercise is complete. Evaluators will then critique/discuss the participant’s performance.

NOTICE: Based on the physical condition of participants, the heights and time limits may need to be adjusted. The basis of the exercise is to have an individual build a system to rappel, reach a patient, attach the patient to the system, ascend, and convert to a lowering system. 


Check out more Roco QUICK DRILL Challenges


K9 Partners in Rope Access

Friday, August 26, 2022

K9 Rope1

Throughout history, dogs have played a vital role in humans’ lives. Evidence of dogs coexisting and serving as companions to humans begins as early as 12,000 B.C. Today dogs continue to serve crucial roles in the military, law enforcement, and search and rescue (SAR), in addition to other more domestic duties.

With current technology, humans have become more mobile in modern times, so have their trusty companions. Dogs can now be found with their partners fast-roping out of helicopters, climbing up and rappelling down cliffs, or at the extreme end of the spectrum, parachuting out of planes.

All of these skills require a high level of training and experience for both dogs and humans alike. Military, police, and SAR working dogs, or K9s, must first go through rigorous obedience and job-specific training before moving on to advanced mobility skills such as rappelling and fast-roping.

Working dog teams provide unique capabilities that require an investment of time, effort, and money to develop. Like any important investment, K9s and the capabilities they provide should be protected. Any high angle rope work is high-risk. To mitigate this risk, using proper equipment and receiving professional training is paramount. 

All of these skills require a high level of training and experience for both dogs and humans alike.

The first step to ensure the safety of K9s (and their handlers) during high-risk evolutions like rappelling is to utilize appropriate, properly fit, climbing or CE/UIAA certified equipment. Some organizations will dictate the specific gear K9 teams use while others allow their K9 teams to pick the gear that works best for their mission. For high angle rope access (climbing and rappelling), each K9 handler should have at a minimum: climbing or tactical helmet, correctly sized and rated harness, a means to descend rope (belay/rappel device), a means to ascend rope (mechanical ascender or prusik cords), safety lanyard, and several locking and non-locking carabiners.

K9 Rope3Finding a CE/UIAA certified harness for your K9 partner will be challenging or nearly impossible. However, dogs do need a properly fitting harness that is rated to a minimum breaking strength of at least 10 times the dog’s weight. Many working dogs wear vests that have a harness built in which can be acceptable, but plastic buckles that are prevalent on many K9 vests don’t cut it for rope access work.

Additionally, there are many ways to attach the dog to the handler (or the rope itself), but again, any straps, cords, or carabiners need to be rated for climbing. For fast roping, the K9 team will need a fast rope descent device and the handler will need a helmet, harness, and gloves. One last piece of gear that some dogs may need for their safety, as well as the safety of their handlers, is a muzzle.

Any high angle rope work is high-risk. To mitigate the risk, using proper equipment and receiving professional training is paramount. 

The second step to buy down risk and protect the investment that a K9 team provides during high angle rope access is to get professional training. It is also crucial that the dog has a high level of obedience before starting high angle rope work. Typically, the first order of business is to get the dog used to the harness and being suspended by hanging or hoisting the dog, gradually increasing the time the dog is suspended. Using treats or some other type of reward will help put the dog at ease. Done right, most working dogs will look forward to donning their harness.

This is also when you may want to introduce a muzzle in the same way (if the dog is not already muzzle trained). The use of a muzzle is not necessary for all dogs but is a good idea for high drive/high energy dogs or dogs that get nervous or agitated being suspended in a harness. The last thing handlers want while they are suspended by a rope is an agitated dog biting them, the rope, or any other equipment thus putting the K9 team at greater risk. Repetition is key; being deliberate and consistent with techniques in multiple environments and using rewards will ensure the dog is properly trained and socialized for the task.

K9 Rope2Once the dog is accustomed to the harness and being suspended, most of the dog’s training is done. For climbing and/or rappelling, the training curriculum a handler should undergo includes knot tying, anchor building, ascending and descending rope, belaying, and building and using mechanical advantage systems for hauling. Once a handler is confident and competent on the rope, the dog can be introduced.

Military, law enforcement, and SAR K9 teams possess incredible capabilities that save lives.

Dogs are very attuned to their handlers, so if the handler is overly nervous the dog will sense that and feed off it. Additionally, there are several ways to position a dog while rappelling. The dog’s position is dictated by the situation and terrain. Some positioning such as to the side or between the legs will reassure the dog and enable the handler to negotiate obstacles more effectively.

Dogs will continue to accompany their human partners to places and in ways that weren’t previously thought possible. Military, law enforcement, and SAR K9 teams possess incredible capabilities that save lives. With the proper training and equipment, they can provide these capabilities in terrain and environments that can only be accessed with rope. Roco Rescue can provide both the professional training and the equipment necessary for K9 rope access be it by fast rope or climbing and rappelling.


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Want a Safer Workplace? Get Employees Involved!

Monday, August 15, 2022

Safe + Sound Week is a nationwide event held each year in August that aims to recognize the successes of workplace health and safety programs and offers information and ideas on how to keep America’s workers safe. Last year, more than 5,300 businesses helped to raise awareness about workers’ health and safety!

Safe+Sound 2022 BadgeAs an OSHA VPP Star Worksite, Roco prides itself on our continual quest to achieve excellence in safety. VPP worksites must operate a comprehensive safety and health management system that includes four key elements: worksite analysis, hazard prevention and control, safety and health training, and our focus for this week, management leadership and employee involvement. To be effective, a safety and health program needs meaningful participation from employees in the workplace.

Here are five examples of a way to generate meaningful employee involvement in your organization.

1. Ask workers for their ideas for improvement.

Who knows the job better than those performing the work? Give employees an opportunity and encourage them to suggest improvements to their work practices. In our experience, many of the most innovative ideas come from employees who are actively involved in the workplace. When employees have the ability to create meaningful change in their work environment, they will be more likely to participate in safe work practices. Additionally, workers will enjoy a morale booster when these innovative ideas are implemented in the workplace. This is also an excellent way for an employer to demonstrate that they care about their employees and are committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace. Consider creating a centrally located drop box to deposit safety suggestion cards; alternatively, create a digital means of submissions or email such as safetysuggestions@company.com to allow for ease of submitting ideas. You might be surprised what your employees come up with!

employee involvement12. Involve employees in workplace inspections.

No matter your industry, a safe workplace will always incorporate frequent workplace inspections into its planning and maintenance schedules. Typically, someone from the safety department or the maintenance department will conduct workplace inspections; however, having the same person perform these inspections each month can create a situation where this individual becomes “blind” to obvious hazards. Involving employees in workplace inspections allows for a “fresh” set of eyes and a new perspective as each individual will notice hazards in a different light.  Consider rotating different employees into workplace inspections whenever possible. You can also make this a positive experience for the employee selected by treating them to lunch afterward.

3. Train workers on hazard identification and reporting.

If you are waiting on “the safety guy” to identify the hazards and correct them, then it could be a while. While safety professionals are a great resource to have on staff, they can’t be everywhere at once! The truth is the safest companies train and involve all employees in hazard identification and reporting. When everyone in the company knows how to identify hazards and take steps to mitigate them, you now have an army of safety professionals! One VPP worksite implemented “hazard hunts” into their monthly plan for the facility. This was similar to an easter egg hunt, but for an industrial worksite. Employees spread out throughout the facility to identify hazards in the workplace. At the end of the hunt, the employee with the most legitimate hazards identified as well as the employee with the most serious hazard identified was rewarded with a gift. This is an outstanding idea for bringing fun to the workplace while also taking steps to involve employees and make a safer working environment!

employee involvement24. Allow workers to lead trainings.

Most companies have periodic safety meetings implemented into their routine. These are typically led by someone from the safety department and can be a great way to highlight and emphasize current safety concerns or best practices in the workplace.  As a way to get employees involved, consider selecting someone different in the workplace to develop and lead a safety training. This doesn’t have to be an hour-long production! Something as simple as a 5-minute talk about heat illness prevention can work. Each person will have their own unique style which will help to keep these safety meetings “fresh”. Be sure to have fun with this one; these presentations don’t have to be intense or serious. The key here is to get employees involved in creating and delivering safety presentations. 

5. Reward workers who take the extra effort for safety.

There is a lot of debate and controversy over incentives for safety; in recent years, there have been several flip-flops on the support for these types of programs.  It really comes down to what you are promoting and how you are doing it when you incentive safety. Creating an environment that discourages reporting of accidents in exchange for a company-wide steak dinner is probably not the most ideal way to go about it. Instead, find ways to praise employees who go above and beyond in safety. When an employee submits a great safety suggestion for improvement and it gets implemented, reward the individual who submitted the idea! Perhaps an employee volunteered to perform the monthly facility inspection and take them out to lunch! If an employee identifies a serious hazard and takes action to mitigate it on the spot, reward them with something nice. Another great idea is having a near miss reporting process; consider doing a quarterly drawing for a gift for everyone who submitted a near miss for that quarter. The big takeaway from rewarding workers is to praise them heavily when they take the initiative to work safely, and coach and support them when they fail to meet those expectations.


ChrisMcGlynn headshot 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.

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