About Rigging for Rescue

Rigging for Rescue offers technical ropework seminars renowned for their focus on applying the critical thinking and systems analysis skills required to competently incorporate ropework and rigging into effective rescue systems. For more information visit www.riggingforrescue.com

Monday, September 23, 2013

Westman Islands, Iceland

The high pressure in the North Atlantic continued unabated for another RfR seminar.  This one was hosted by Ice Sar and held in Vestmannaeyjar (aka Westman Islands) off the SW coast of Iceland.  The training sites were abundant and diverse.  Exercises included stretcher work, pickoffs, specialty techniques like the Pike 'n Pivot, a long Guiding Line, and a multi-pitch steep slope evacuation.

The anchoring in Iceland is often unique and somewhat improvised.  To contend with the sub-optimal rock quality and a lack of sizable vegetation anchors - btw, as the local advice goes, if you get lost in an Icelandic forest, just stand up - rescue teams have devised a variety of anchoring methods and tools including ground stakes and angled aluminum wedges for pounding into the turf.  Get enough of anything and you can improvise a solid anchor. 

On one of our raising scenarios, the lines were 'trenching' into the turf due to a low mainline focal point and some convex terrain between that focal point and the edge.  Fighting all of that extra friction made it very difficult to raise the load back up.  Additionally, advancing the Prusik rope grab for the next raise became a real chore.  It reminded me of some of the same challenges in a crevasse rescue scenario when your lines cut into the snow/ice.  I showed them a simple and effective solution which was to move a large stone to the top of the convex roll and anchor some edge protection on top of the stone (see image below). This caused the ropes to 'float' and alleviated the suffering on the mainline haul team. 

Use of a boulder high directional

Fore!!  Playing through...

165m Guiding Line


Difficult edge transitions

Icelandic high directional

Scenic spot for training

Pike 'n Pivot

The Westmans

Monday, September 16, 2013

Faroe Islands - Rigging for Rescue Seminar

What a fantastic experience I recently had conducting an RfR training on the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic.  The Faroes are located pretty well equidistant between Iceland and Scotland.  I was anticipating ‘full battle conditions’ with the weather, but it turned out to be an incredibly benign week with almost no wind, sunny skies, and mild temps. Quite a treat.

Over the past 12 months, the SAR team there has taken on the supreme challenge of founding a new team from scratch, acquiring equipment, training, and dedicated team members.  They were fortunate to get some good guidance from their neighbors at ICE-SAR in Iceland.  However, most of the credit goes to them and their commitment to the task at hand. 

Hosting a Rigging for Rescue seminar was treated internally as their team graduation week.  They had the training scheduled nearly 9 months ago. They now feel skilled and confident in their rope rescue proficiency and in short order will be added to the emergency dispatch system in the Faroes.  It was an empowering week for the team members and we at RfR felt honored to play a small role in their ongoing education in the craft of technical rescue.

The week wrapped up with a great party hosted in the galley of a large sailing vessel moored in the harbor of the capital city of Torshavn.  What better way to wrap up a week of training than a party on a boat complete with Irish folk songs?

Rescue raises on a scenic sea cliff

Looks like a PMP, but is actually a GEP (Grass Eating Pulley)

Nice scenery for training if you have the weather

Hang loose Hawai'i?  No, the Faroes!

Slope work

Kootenay Highline System

Comparing/contrasting vertical vs. horizontal litter orientation