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Rescuing from the Bullpen

Friday, April 9, 2021

It is FINALLY that time of year. The sight of freshly mown Kentucky Blue Grass, the smell of $9.00 hot dogs, the taste of $13.00 draft beer. It is that magical moment when America’s pastime – silence football apologist – will once again take its rightful spot at the top of all things important in the sports world.

The sport of baseball has a deep-rooted history and possesses within itself many variables that can affect the outcome of the game. However, there is one component of the game that can be the most decisive reason that a game is won or lost. Let me introduce you to the bullpen pitcher.

Bullpen Pitcher Rescues the Game

It is odd that the person who will be placed in this decisive role does not have the luxury of getting in a rhythm and working out the nervous feelings and rusty movements as the game develops. No, unlike the rest of the players who have built up to a critical moment and are absorbed in the action, the bullpen pitcher must come in cold. Placed in control of a situation that someone else created, he is expected to perform at the highest level to save his team from an undesirable outcome. 

Does this sound familiar to you? Welcome to the lives of every rescuer.

Rescue personnel do not have the luxury of scheduling when they will be called on to perform in very high-stress situations that demand the maximum from their skills to succeed.

What compounds the situation further is the fact that the outcome resulting from the rescuer’s performance is not winning or losing a game, but the lives of individuals. The ability of a rescuer to be inserted in a situation with less than desirable conditions and perform their skills in ways that achieve the desired results requires a unique person and a very high level of training.

Both of these crafts start out the same.

First, it takes an exceptional person to fill these roles and accept the responsibility, and pressure, that each bring.

Both begin by learning all the skills and knowledge they can and develop their abilities through repetition and further understanding of their trade until they are ready to perform. Armed, one literally and one figuratively, with everything they need to be successful, they set out down their chosen path to achieve success and become a notable ally of good. The problem that they both soon recognize is that most of their time is spent waiting, wanting to use the skills that they have spent time perfecting, but stuck wondering when they would get their chance. For rescuers, not having to respond to an incident that requires the use of their skills is a good thing.

A bullpen pitcher may be called in to stop the “bleeding” when the game is on the line. But the bleeding that happens when a rescuer is called involves a human life. 

People who have a calling for these roles did not dedicate their time and effort just to have a good seat in front of the action that is occurring. They want to be in the moment as it is happening, to contribute to gaining the best outcome possible. Neither of these roles have the opportunity to continuously use their skills in the instance they were designed for. But when called upon to execute these skills in a time of need, they must be able to perform with precise talents and in a proficient fashion. Lack of performance from one may get you sent down to the minors, or just out of a job period. The other, however, potentially faces a far worse reality.

Rescuers do not have the benefit of having an “off day” when lives are at stake.

You can’t just go to the bullpen for a new reliever to take your place, you are the last line of defense between someone’s life and serious, sometimes tragic, results.

If you have been in the rescue business long enough for the newness to have worn off your initial training, you know that the knowledge and skills it takes to be a part of a successful rescue team are highly perishable.

Rescue knowledge and skill must be continuously practiced and studied in order to be at the very top of your game.

Just as a reliever who is expected to paint the corners and produce double-play balls, the rescuer must dedicate themselves to working on their required craft to maintain, and improve, their ability to perform. 

A successful bullpen pitcher is a necessity for success, but they are a singular component of the team. To perform at the highest level, the bullpen pitcher needs many components. A good batterymate and solid defense are imperative. A good manager and scouting report give the reliever the direction and information they need to execute. Again, the similarity between the two crafts shows here. A rescuer is an essential component of a successful rescue team. However, a dedicated rescuer who works to be at the top of their rescue skills still must rely on others for success.

team

A team of proficient rescuers who also stay on top of their skills provide the needed defense. A good team leader calling the right pitch serves as the rescuers’ batterymate. Preplanning not only a potential space where rescue may be performed, but all of the variables that may cause unforeseen hazards or impede the rescue efforts serves as a rescuer’s scouting report. A good emergency manager is another critical piece. A team cannot be successful without the funds and time to become proficient. The emergency manager is the piece that fights for the ability to provide the team the opportunity to practice their craft. Annual rescue training is great for “demonstrating and documenting” individual skills proficiency as required in OSHA 1910.146 PRCS, but how confident are you in your skills when you perform them once a year? Continuous training is crucial for the success of any rescue team. 

Both trades will face various situations throughout their career that produce another factor that can impact the outcome of a situation, it is called stress. Lack of preparedness and performance will drastically impact this factor and will assuredly make a bad situation worse. Coming in with 2 outs and nobody on in the 7th to protect a lead will create significantly less stress than coming in with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th no outs with a 1 run lead. The same applies to a rescuer responding to a worker with a sprained ankle who can’t climb a ladder in a non-hazardous environment. This situation will produce minimal stress for a rescue team that is not quite up to par with their skills and preparedness. 

However, the same team attempting to rescue three individuals who are unconscious in a confined space with a hazardous atmosphere will experience an exponentially increased amount of stress, which will certainly play a part in the outcome. Both of these situations require skills to be performed, but a team that is not capable in their skills and rescue decision-making process can potentially cause more harm than good for the unfortunate souls needing rescuers to save them from a perilous situation.

The bottom line is this, rescue teams must train often and with a purpose to ensure that they are ready at a moment’s notice, prepared to face the direst of situations, and capable of achieving the best possible outcome. This includes individual rescuers as well as the team working as a unit. No one wants to bear the scars of a rescue gone wrong. Rescuers want to be the ones that made the difference and let someone get home to their family safely.

So, when the skipper comes out in the 9th and calls for the lefty out of the pen, what rescue team will you be? One that is a pitch away from being sent down to the minors or worse sent packing because of their performance? Or the ace reliever who puts the team on his shoulders in game 7 to bring home the Commissioner’s Trophy? Play Ball!


3 Practice Tips from Roco Rescue

Check out our Quick Drills for some in-house practice, or join us for one of our Compliance Rescue Refreshers.

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?

D024BA00-MAESTRO-L-focus-2_LowRes

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.

Chris Carlsen, Roco Rescue

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

 

Roco Tips for Maintaining Rescue Skills in the Midst of Coronavirus

Monday, February 1, 2021

We are all being confronted with a pandemic that is compelling us to make significant changes in how we go about our day, both on and off the job.  Although we are still hosting training at RTC almost every week, we are hearing from many teams that employers are still placing restrictions on travel and offsite training. We are challenged to adjust our behaviors while still being prepared to perform our rescue duties if called upon, and it is still vitally important to keep your skills sharp. Maintaining rescue skills proficiency was already challenging enough before Coronavirus. As always, it’s important to be ready. 

We would like to offer some tips to help you maintain both your individual and team proficiency.  These tips are not intended to provide the same level of proficiency that attending a formal refresher class would, but we feel they will go a long way in helping you keep your skills at an acceptable, if not a highly polished level.


A rescuer acts as a litter attendant, or "barrelman", during an exercise at the Roco Training Center.

Our Roco training department has put together a list of skills to concentrate on while doing your own in-house independent training.  We based these on the skills that have demonstrated the highest degree of erosion or loss of proficiency over time, and also the skills that are most likely to be called upon for your rescue duties. 

First on the list are knots.  We should all be able to tie the knots we will need for any given rescue system, but let’s take it a step further and strive to become knot craftsmen.  So break out your rope and webbing shorts, and go through your knots.  The beauty of this practice is you can certainly maintain social distancing as you practice either alone or in small groups. 

Let’s go beyond the basics of dress, load and safety, and start to tie knots that make the system more efficient and safer.  For anchor knots like the figure 8 on-a-bight, start gauging how much rope you need to tie the knot with the resulting closed loop being more compact.  My gauge is to end up with a loop that I can easily clip three carabiners into, but not much bigger than that.  Those big loops end up being a hindrance when we are trying to clear a litter out of a vertical portal, or getting a rescue package up and over a parapet or guardrail.  By keeping those finished closed loops nice and compact, you economize and maintain that headroom. 

Work any twists or crossed material out of the knot before loading.  This isn’t just a question of appearance, but in many cases helps maintain the strength of the rope or webbing as you tie the knot.  The biggest advantage of reducing or eliminating twists or crossed material is that it is much easier to untie the knot and is certainly easier to recognize the knot as being correct during final safety checks. 

Practice tying knots around anchors coming from different angles and positions relative to the anchor.  It is easy to tie a clove hitch around a horizontal pipe.  Now start practicing tying it around a vertical anchor.  Or better yet, while you are standing on the opposite side of the anchor from where the standing section of rope is coming from.  It is the same knot, only now you are seeing it from a different orientation. 

So, challenge yourself to become a knot craftsperson.  Tie knots in the dark or blindfolded, behind your back, with winter gloves on, or any other way that is more challenging than in an air-conditioned well-lit room. 

To identify the skills that you should be practicing beyond basic knots, refer to your rescue preplans and list the skills required for your most likely rescues, as well as your worst case scenarios.  Don’t worry about building scenarios yet, instead divide the individual and team skills into discernable categories using the equipment that you have in your rescue cache.  During your rescue plan reviews, make sure to keep an eye out for any plans that need to be updated. 

The most common skills used, and the ones that seem to have a high degree of perishability, are:

  • anchor and system rigging
  • patient packaging
  • mechanical advantages, and
  • converting mechanical advantages to lowers (or vice versa)
A rescuer selects equipment while practicing proper rigging.

ANCHOR AND SYSTEM RIGGING

Anchor rigging is half science and half art.  Of course, we need to identify the anchors that we can use as either single point or multi-point anchors.  Single point anchors are generally easier, but even they can be done with an eye for efficiency vs. just slapping a sling around it and calling it good.  Can we extend that single point anchor to be in a better position to see the load or to be able to communicate more efficiently? Should we extend the anchor out from the wall a bit to allow room to operate a friction control device, versus being jammed against the wall and having to be a contortionist to operate the device?

For multi-point anchors, can we consistently end up with a two-point bridle that approximately shares the load equally between legs?  Are we maintaining safe angles and not approaching that 120 degree critical angle?  Are we hogging the anchors and leaving the safety line system with few or no options for their anchor? 

CONVERTING MAs TO LOWERS

If we anticipate converting a lowering system to a haul system or vice versa, can we make the conversion efficiently?  This is where the use of modern friction control devices makes our job so much easier and safer.  If you are using a device like the Petzl I’D or Maestro, the CMC MPD or Clutch, or any device that can be used for friction control and as a change of direction and progress capture in a haul system, it is good to practice the conversion back and forth from haul to lower and lower to haul, even with a load suspended. 

MECHANICAL ADVANTAGES

Practice building vertical simple MAs, horizontal Z-rigs, and also compound MAs.  Make sure there is always a progress capture or ratchet built into the system.  On the final checks, the system must be the proper ratio, including a final change of direction if called for, have a functioning ratchet, and all carabiners must be locked.  If you want a little tip that works no matter what you are doing, it is this credo:

"Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast."

PATIENT PACKAGING

If you have a rescue manikin in your facility, now is a great time to practice social distancing by practicing patient packaging.  No matter which type of litter you are using, there is a lot of value in practicing with that litter to correctly secure the patient in the litter and then to create a safe and efficient bridle to attach the rescue system.  Practice this for both rigid and flexible litters and for horizontal and vertical orientations. 

For all the skills we have already listed, you can perform the practice solo and then step back to let one of your teammates do a quality and safety check on your work.

Finally, we all like to have some fun when we practice, so why not inject a bit of competition into the scene?  We love to have races to see who can build mechanical advantages fastest, but the most important thing is not the time. When scoring your contest, focus on the accuracy and safety of the finished product.  You can set up multiple lanes separated by the social distancing guidelines and have one team member be the timer and score keeper. 

So remember that team performance is dependent on individual skills coming together to build and operate the right system for the situation at hand.  Now is a great time to focus on individual skills so when this pandemic is finally past us, we can rock it as a rescue team.

(article updated and republished from April 2020)

Confined Space Rescue Planning: Key Considerations

Monday, March 2, 2020

Do you have a rescue plan for your permit-required confined space entry work? One that has been practiced regularly and revised if necessary? If you can't emphatically say "yes" to these questions, consider this sobering statistic: Over 60% of confined-space fatalities in multifatality confined-space incidents involve the would-be rescuer. This is often due to poor and/or quick decision-making when things go wrong... in other words, not sticking to the plan (if one exists). Having a plan in place that accounts for all the "what-ifs" can prevent these fatalities from happening.

What elements should a permit-required confined space rescue plan include? Roco Rescue Safety Officer Pat Furr outlines these in an article in Safety + Health (the official magazine of the National Safety Council).

Read the article in its entirety and click here to download our Confined Space Entry Quick Reference Checklist.

CS Preplan Checklist

When Learning the Ropes, There’s Always More to Learn

Monday, February 24, 2020

By Brad Warr, Roco Rescue Chief Instructor

I took my first rope rescue class in 1995. I spent a lot of my youth in the outdoors and did some knot-tying and rappelling at scout camp. I have fond memories of flying down the (super-sketchy) zip line at summer camp. Climbing over the edge at my first rope rescue class wasn’t terrifying, it was exhilarating. It was also confusing - really confusing.

Scaling a vertical surface

Urban and industrial rope rescue had collided with wilderness rescue techniques. NFPA regulations relating to technical rescue were being adopted by fire departments across the country. Industrial rescue teams were adopting those same standards and the race to heavy rigging was well underway. 

Questions Abound

Confusion reigned, in part because it was a time of great change, but also because I was so green. I remember having so many questions. Did my rope need to be brand new for every rescue? Why did a figure 8 have ears? So, I wrap three but only pull two? Why should I avoid descenders with too many moving parts and why do my double pulleys weigh 6 pounds? Mechanical cams will strip my rope but if I wrap a couple of those little cords around my big rescue rope then I am safe? It was a lot to digest.

Now, 25 years later, I have learned so much. Mostly I have learned that there’s always more to learn. I have learned that money spent on quality training is money well spent. I have been privileged to train with some of the best instructors in the world. It has taught me that if I am to be successful as a rescuer and as an instructor that I must evolve… much like the equipment has evolved and will continue to evolve over time.

Equipment Advances & New Techniques

Brad Warr teaching at the Roco Training Center

Today our descenders have pulleys, our pulleys have swivels and the equipment we use is incredibly reliable and, well, mechanical. The equipment is sleek. It’s smooth. Best of all, it’s not complicated.

We’ll be doing a demo of some of that equipment and the techniques that drive the hardware (teachings adapted from our rope rescue training courses) at the North Dakota Safety Council's 2020 Safety Conference. We’re proud to be partnering with the North Dakota Safety Council to make industrial safety training and services more accessible in a region experiencing rapid industrial growth. Roco Rescue Director of Training Chris Carlsen and I will be offering a different hands-on session on each day of the conference. Sessions and topics include:

  • Advanced Rope Rescue. Learn the most efficient rescue techniques, using modern rescue equipment and systems. Recent advances make it possible to perform the same task with a higher degree of safety while also being more efficient in terms of manpower, equipment and time.
  • Mechanical Advantage Systems. We’ll teach you the principles of mechanical advantage in an easy-to-understand way. Covered topics include calculating input and output forces, determining appropriate equipment requirements for a given situation, as well as often-overlooked considerations such as frictional loss and sheave diameter. This is a hands-on class, taught on a 2-story training prop.
  • Vertical Mobility in Place of Traditional Means of Access. Rope access is significantly safer and in most cases more cost effective than traditional means of access (scaffolds, man-lifts, etc), which explains why it is gaining acceptance in a wide variety of industrial settings. We’ll teach and demonstrate several different rope access techniques and talk about scenarios in which they might be applied.
  • Intro to Rescue Advancements. A great opportunity to see the latest advancements in rescue equipment, systems and techniques, attendees will get hands-on experience as we demonstrate the latest techniques and equipment - and show how many tasks can now be done with a higher degree of safety and efficiency. Today’s lightweight precision manufactured equipment as well as modern synthetics have increased safety and give rescuers greater flexibility and multi-functionality than ever before.

A Safer Way

Even if you’re not attending NDSC’s conference this week, these are the types of topics you can expect when you come to Roco Rescue for training. We stay on top of the very latest developments in rescue and distill what’s most useful and most effective into our courses, in an easy-to-remember fashion. Our instructors are skilled rescuers and teachers who adapt their methods to a variety of learning styles.

We hope to see you at the NDSC Safety Conference or in one of our rope rescue certification courses. Check out your training options below, or call us to arrange for us to come to your site for training.

View Training Options

 

bradwarr

Brad Warr is a Chief Instructor for Roco Rescue and a Captain at the Nampa (ID) Fire Department. Brad joined Roco Rescue in 2003 and teaches a wide variety of technical rescue classes including rope rescue, confined space rescue, trench rescue, and structural collapse. He is also a member of Roco’s Contracted Safety & Rescue Team, providing standby rescue services for plants, refineries and other industrial facilities. Brad became a firefighter for the Nampa Fire Department in 1998 and was promoted to Captain in 2006. His responsibilities include training for the department’s Heavy & Technical Rescue Team. Before joining the fire department, Brad worked for three years as an Emergency Response Technician for a large manufacturer in Boise, Idaho, where he was responsible for OSHA compliance, emergency medical response, confined space/rope rescue response and hazardous materials response.

 

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