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Back In Beaumont for Industrial Rescue I/II

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Here’s an “ON THE ROAD” segment by Roco Chief Instructor and Director of Training, Dennis O’Connell.

I just got back from Beaumont, Texas, where I taught our new 50-hour Industrial Rescue I/II. In this class, we focus on preparing responders for the unique challenges of industrial rescue – whether you’re a member of an industrial team or a municipal firefighter who may respond to plants or manufacturing facilities.

And if you’ve taken ROCO classes in the past couple of years, you know we’re constantly updating our techniques and equipment as we try to find safer and more efficient ways to do rescue.

It’s been a number of years since ROCO has conducted training in Beaumont and it was good to be back. The BEST Complex offers excellent facilities for industrial and municipal emergency response training – both in firefighting and rescue. The multiple confined space props and 6-story training tower make it an ideal place to conduct high angle and confined space rescue classes. These training props give students realistic anchoring and industrial confined space rescue situations that enhance the techniques taught during the class.

Roco’s Industrial Rescue I/II class provides rescue skills and techniques to handle the vast majority of rescues a team would face in a plant or refinery. The class covers both inert rescue procedures as well as on-air IDLH entry rescue. The first three days are dedicated to skills and techniques while the last two include a variety of scenario-based exercises using the skills learned. One of the nice things about the Beaumont facility is the ability to practice rescues from all six types of confined spaces as referenced in OSHA 1910.146 as well as practicing rescue from height which is often overlooked during confined space training.

This particular class consisted of a mix of firefighters and industrial plant and refinery workers – some brand new to the rescue world and others with a lot of experience. Some of the more experienced rescuers took the class as a “back to basics” review and to meet their annual “confined space types practice” for the year. However, even the experienced rescuers in the class found a few new ways to use the equipment and get the job done.

Most of the students were from the local Beaumont-Port Arthur area, but we did have students from other parts of Texas and some as far away as Alaska. I think the Alaskans were ready to head back to the “minus 30 degree” weather north of the Arctic Circle after experiencing a week of temperatures hovering around 100 degrees!
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Petzl Recall for GriGri 2′s

Friday, July 01, 2011

For our readers who may use Petzl GriGri 2’s, we wanted to make you aware of this recall. Please check the serial number of your device to see if it’s in this range. You will also need to contact Petzl as indicated below. As noted, this does not apply to the previous generation GriGri.

NOTICE FROM PETZL
As a measure of precaution Petzl has decided to take the following actions:

Increase the mechanical strength of the handle on all GRIGRI 2’s since serial number 11137. Recall all GRIGRI 2’s with the first five digits of the serial number between 10326 and 11136, and replace with a new revised GRIGRI 2. Petzl will pay for all shipping costs to complete this replacement.

If you have a GRIGRI 2 (D14 2O, D14 2G, D14 2B) with the first five digits of the serial number between 10326 and 11136, stop use immediately and contact Petzl America to initiate an exchange.

Contact Petzl America in one of two ways:

  •     By phone: 1 (800) 932-2978 (toll free)
  •     By email: grigri2recall@petzl.com
The previous generation GRIGRI is not concerned by this recall.
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How to Haul a Victim in Half the Time: Part 2

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Well, maybe not half the time, but certainly some fraction of the time.

In How to Haul a Victim in Half the Time: Part 1, we covered ways to reduce the time needed to haul a rescue package by taking advantage of changes of direction.

Here, we want to address OSHA and ANSI guidance regarding retrieval systems – specifically mechanical devices used for rescue.

OSHA 1910.146(k)(3) states “To facilitate non-entry rescue, retrieval systems or methods shall be used whenever an authorized entrant enters a permit space, unless the retrieval equipment would increase the overall risk of entry or would not contribute to the rescue of the entrant.

Additionally, OSHA follows the ANSI Z117-1-1989 approach that was in effect at the time of OSHA 1910.146 promulgation, which states, “A mechanical device shall be available to retrieve personnel from vertical type PRCS’s greater than 5 feet in depth.” It also adds, “In general, mechanical lifting devices should have a mechanical advantage adequate to safely rescue personnel.”

Subsequent revisions to ANSI Z117 included the recommendation that “The mechanical device used should be appropriate for rescue service.” The revised standard adds,“Mechanical lifting devices should have a mechanical advantage of at least four to one and the capacity to lift entrants including any attached tools and equipment.”

Two key points that must be considered: (1) OSHA follows the ANSI approach that was in effect at the time 1910.146 was promulgated which did not recommend a minimum mechanical advantage ratio; and, (2) The rule makers intended to leave a degree of latitude for the rescue service to select a lifting device that is most appropriate for the particular situation encountered.

Roco’s rule of thumb is… the mechanical device used should be appropriate for rescue service – and the employer should not use any mechanical device that could injure the entrant during rescue, which would include a mechanical device with too great a mechanical advantage (MA) for the number of people operating the system. Here’s a guideline we use for determining the proper number of rescuers for a particular system – it should take some effort to haul the victim, but not so much effort that it wears the rescuers completely out. And, it should not be too easy, or you won’t as readily feel if the victim gets hung-up.

Because 1910.146 is a performance-based regulation, it does not specify the rescue procedures that are most appropriate for any given PRCS. It leaves this to the responding rescue service based on their assessment of the PRCS in terms of configuration, depth, and anticipated rescue load. Current ANSI Z117 recommends that the MA “should” be at least four to one. Notice that it does not state “shall” and thus the discretion of the rescue service is taken into account. A generic recommendation of a 4:1 is a good start but should not be considered as a catch-all answer to the problem of lifting the load. Even a 4:1 may not be enough if the person doing the hauling is not strong enough and may require a greater M/A in order to remove the load from the space.

Must we always use a minimum MA of 4:1, or could there be justification in using an MA below the 4:1 ratio when there is a need to provide a faster means of hauling the rescue package? Consider the possibility of reducing the mechanical advantage ratio when there is plenty of haul team members. If you have 4 haul team members for a 250 pound rescue package, do you really need that 4:1 MA? Consider going with a 3:1 or even a 2:1, especially if the throw is short and the haul is long. However, keep in mind that the package will be traveling much faster by reducing the MA – so it is imperative that a “hole
watch” be assigned to monitor the rescue package and be ready to call an immediate “STOP” should the package become hung up.

Caution: If you’re using a piggyback system, make sure the haul team does not outpace the individual taking in the mainline slack through a ratchet device. Should a lot of slack build up in the mainline and the haul team lose control of the haul line, the resulting free-fall of the load could spell disaster. Of course we always encourage the use of a safety (belay) line, but on rare occasions the urgency of the rescue may warrant not using a safety line on the victim.

Ultimately it is the employer’s responsibility to evaluate the selected rescue service’s ability to provide prompt and effective rescue. If the rescue service is able to demonstrate their capability using an MA that is less than the current ANSI recommendation, then that would meet the performance-based nature of the standard. In reality, by using a reduced MA, the time required to extricate the rescue package can be cut by 1/3 to 1/2 depending on the situation. In certain emergencies, that saved time could very easily mean the difference between a successful rescue and a body recovery.
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Roco Teams Up with BEST in Southeast Texas

Monday, June 20, 2011

Roco Rescue, Inc. and the Beaumont Emergency Services Training Complex (BEST Complex) have announced a partnership to deliver more options in rescue training for fire departments and industry.

In addition to open-enrollment rescue training, Roco’s private courses will also be available.

Upcoming Roco events scheduled at BEST include:

Oct 5-6,  2011 – Rescue Challenge
Dec 5-8, 2011 – Rescue IV-Advanced Rescue Scenarios

The partnership marks a return for Roco to the Southeast Texas facility. For many years, BEST (the former Beaumont Fire/Rescue Training Center) provided a great venue for Roco’s rope rescue and confined space training programs. The location is convenient and economical for many clients in the Texas industrial corridor and surrounding states.

Based on the early success of the partnership, both Roco and BEST say they will be adding more dates and courses to the 2012 open-enrollment training schedule. New offerings will include Confined Space, High Angle, Structural Collapse and Trench Rescue. This will provide additional training options for municipal and industrial rescue teams in the area. It’s a win-win-win.

For more information about Roco training at the BEST facility, contact  Aimee Sims at Roco (800-647-7626).
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Manhole Rescue Effort Ends in 2 Deaths

Friday, June 17, 2011

Authorities are investigating the suffocation of two North Carolina workers in a water system manhole—one of whom apparently died trying to rescue the other.

The victims were employees of Triangle Grading and Paving Inc., a Burlington NC-based utility contractor that has been cited dozens of times for federal health and safety violations.

In 1997, a company employee burned to death on a job. Luis Castaneda Gomez, 34, of Durham, and Jesus Martinez Benitez, 32, of Clayton, perished in the accident about 6 p.m. EDT Tuesday (June 7) in a section of water system under construction off U.S. 70. The men had been laying water lines in the system, near the Durham-Wake County line.

Lack of Oxygen Note


North Carolina’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health is investigating.

Officials are not sure what happened, but the local fire department and county hazmat team that responded to the scene found that the 12-foot-deep hole had insufficient oxygen to sustain life, said Capt. Don Ladd of the Durham County Sheriff’s Office. They donned breathing equipment to bring the men out.

Rescue workers recover the bodies of two men who suffocated in a manhole in Durham, NC. “What you’ve got down in the bottom [of the hole] is any number of things—whatever is connected to that manhole, could be methane gas or could be any number of things—that would cause oxygen deprivation,” said Allen McNeely, deputy director of NC DOSH.

The men were in a shaft that goes down 12 to 14 feet, then leads into a 4-by-6-foot bunker where several water pipes come together, Ladd said.

911 Call Released


Authorities believe that either Gomez or Benitez was having trouble breathing, or was unconscious, in the hole and the other went down to help him before he, too, suffocated.

A third worker at the site flagged down a passing motorist to call 911. According to a tape of the 911 call, the pair had been in the hole for about 15 minutes and were unconscious when the motorist arrived.

The third worker said he had dropped off Gomez and Benitez 30 to 45 minutes earlier to retrieve some equipment and returned to find both men in the shaft, not moving, Ladd said.

The men were pronounced dead at the scene.

Company Responds


Triangle Grading & Paving installs large and small sanitary sewer, water lines, storm sewer, pump stations and vacuum sanitary systems. The company released this statement Wednesday:

“Triangle Grading and Paving grieves with the families of Jesus Martinez and Luis Gomez, two valued members of our utility division who lost their lives in an accident at one of our projects yesterday.

“We take great pride in our safety and education programs at Triangle. We do everything in our power to prevent injuries and deaths in a dangerous occupation. Over the past three years, we have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to ensure the safety of hundreds of employees.

“Yesterday, a deadly incident occurred in spite of those efforts, and we are now cooperating with the North Carolina Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Division’s investigation of this matter and conducting our own investigation as well. Because our investigation is ongoing, we will not have further comment about this today.”

Extensive OSHA History


Triangle Paving has an extensive record with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The company has been cited 68 times for violations since 1997—most of the charges, if not all, significantly reduced in severity and monetary penalties before settlement.

The company settled three cases with OSHA in the first three months of 2011, two cases in 2010, and four in 2009. Still pending is a 2010 case involving one willful and two serious violations. A willful violation is OSHA’s highest level of infraction and carries major penalties.

In that case, the company was fined $57,000 for failing to protect workers from cave-ins while they labored in an eight-foot trench at a project on Fort Bragg. The fine has tentatively been reduced to $40,000, but the case remains open.

“Triangle Grading and Paving has a history of trenching violations and is fully aware of required safety standards to protect its workers,” Suzanne Street, OSHA’s area director in Raleigh, said last year in announcing the fines.

“This employer continues to put workers at risk by ignoring these safety standards.”

In 1997, an employee of Triangle burned to death after a hydraulic line on the bulldozer he was operating ruptured and the fluid triggered a fire that engulfed the cab. The company paid $3,300 in fines for poor maintenance, infrequent inspections, and inadequate training.

Record Not Checked


Asked by a local NBC affiliate how Triangle continued to operate with such a checkered safety record, a North Carolina Department of Labor official replied: “We’re not in the business of putting people out of business, but we are in the business of making sure that it’s a safe working environment that workers work in.”

In Tuesday’s accident, DOL is investigating whether the company followed training, equipment and other requirements for working in enclosed spaces with poor ventilation, said department spokesman Neal O’Briant.

Jerry Morrone, Durham Engineering Supervisor, told the NBC affiliate that the city had not known about Triangle’s safety record. Morrone said his department had checked “at least three” references but had not checked DOL records. He said none of the references mentioned Triangle’s safety record.

“It is a tragedy,” McNeely told the Charlotte News Observer. “If it turns out that it was one worker going in, and the other went in to save him when he got no response, then it’s almost what you’d expect a buddy to do.”
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A stingray, my teenager and special care from the Fort Morgan VFD

Thursday, June 09, 2011

So many communities and sleepy villages across America rely on their local volunteer fire departments for first responding. It is a critical service that saves lives, and a lot of pain in the world. In my case, the Fort Morgan (AL) VFD showed great compassion, expertise, and confidence in responding to our small incident with the calm and collected demeanor you see in so many veteran responders. As a citizen, you can detect the honor and dedication they have in just a brief encounter like this one.

While we don’t get many vacation days with teenage boys at home, we were lucky to sneak off to Fort Morgan, AL for a couple of days last month. Fifteen minutes after we settled under the shade of our umbrella, my 17-year-old son made a B-line out of the water, screaming and holding a foot that was spewing blood… volumes.


Realizing this was no ordinary jelly-fish incident, I dialed 911 and described the symptoms… BIG PAIN. Like most experienced Moms, after the cut was under control, I went straight for the ice bag. On application our victim began full body trembling, sweating, and more moaning. (This is the guy who didn’t cry when he ripped his bicep on a fence post and required thirty stitches!)

Within 4 minutes of calling 911, the Fort Morgan Volunteer Fire Department (FMVFD) arrived at our condo. Five experienced gentlemen stepped into the room, asked a few key questions, and started giving orders. Calm as a cucumber they instructed, “Mom, go get a hot towel, hot as you can get it.” I obeyed and handed it to the fireman. He gently wrapped the wounded foot in the warm towel and within seconds you could see the relief on the face of our patient. This pretty much confirmed the diagnosis… stingray venom.

Most stingray-related injuries to humans occur to the ankles and lower legs, when someone accidentally steps on a ray buried in the sand and the frightened fish flips up its dangerous tail.

A stingray’s venom is not necessarily fatal, but it hurts a lot. It’s composed of the enzymes 5-nucleotidase and phosphodiesterase and the neurotransmitter serotonin.Serotonin causes smooth muscle to severely contract, and it is this component that makes the venom so painful. The enzymes cause tissue and cell death. Heat breaks down stingray venom and limits the amount of damage it can do. It’s the best treatment for beach boys who run into the stingray, and the FMVFD knows this.

I took a moment to “google” the guys at FMVFD to get their names for this article. But like so many in the rescue field, the individual names are not promoted. It was a pleasure to see that U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner announced the award of funding to the Fort Morgan Volunteer Department from the United States Department of Homeland Security and the United States Fire Administration (USFA). The grant, totaling $134,955, is being made available through the USFA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program and will be used for the purchase of a firefighting vehicle.

It’s a joy to know that there is FEMA money available to keep these essential programs intact, and help them make improvements. From the small stings to larger threats, volunteer departments deserve our respect and support. Donations are always a great way to say a special thanks!

The “Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program” provides one-year grant funding to local fire departments to assist them in improving their ability to respond to fire-related and other emergencies in their communities. The funding cane be used to purchase firefighting equipment, enhance emergency medical services programs, fund firefighter health and safety programs, and conduct fire education and prevention programs.
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Roco Instructor receives US Marshals Officer of the Year Award

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Cop receives national award from U.S. Marshals for response to August shooting.

We are very proud to announce that Roco Chief Instructor Terry Addison was awarded “Law Enforcement Officer of the Year” from the US Marshals Service last week in Washington, DC.

The Director’s Honorary Awards are given to recognize employees who perform in an exemplary manner and give dedicated service to the missions of the Marshals Service. A Director’s Award is the highest award given by the United States Marshals Service. In addition to teaching for Roco, Terry works for both the South Salt Lake City Fire and Police Departments. Congratulations, Terry, we are very proud of you!

To read the story in The Salt Lake Tribune click here.

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What does ASTM say about Rope Inspection?

Monday, June 06, 2011

ASTM F1740 provides very comprehensive guidelines for users of rescue rope.  The title “Standard Guide for Inspection of Nylon, Polyester, or Nylon/Polyester Blend, or Both Kernmantle Rope” indicates it is specifically intended to guide the user in the inspection of these rescue ropes, and is not intended to be a guide in the selection and use of rescue ropes.

However, the information included in F1740 is not to be considered the only criteria for evaluating the serviceability of rescue rope.

One of the first considerations the user needs to address is the selection of an experienced individual who is deemed qualified to perform and document the rope inspections.

While F1740 does provide excellent guidelines, the user and/or the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) may feel it necessary to augment the information in F1740 with additional training.

Fortunately, our friends at PMI Rope have produced a very comprehensive webinar on Rope Care which includes specific information on  rope inspections. This 61 minute webinar is presented by Mr. Steve Hudson, president of PMI Rope. Steve has an unsurpassed background and knowledge base regarding the manufacture and use of rescue rope and his presentation should more than satisfy your need to augment F1740.

Click here for a link to PMI’s webinars. Use the scroll down on the left and select the 3/2/10 presentation titled “Rope Care.” The information that addresses rope inspection begins at the 24:30 time mark of the presentation.

RocoRescue.com offers PMI rescue rope for rescue professionals. Please contact Roco at 800-647-7626 if you have any further questions.
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Trench Collapse Fatality: Las Vegas, NM

Friday, June 03, 2011

What does getting struck by a pickup traveling 45 mph and being in the path of a trench wall collapse have in common? The outcome is typically not going to be positive…

A six cubic yard section of trench wall that collapses into an 8 foot deep trench has the weight and speed of a full size pickup traveling 45 mph.

These forces are the reason why a proactive and compliant trench safety program is paramount to your safety as a worker or as a rescuer!

Unfortunately, there was another tragic incident last week in Las Vegas, New Mexico, in which two workers were killed following a trench cave-in. Dirt buried 49-year-old Frank Romero and 32-year-old Gene Hern. The men were installing sewer and water lines in the 8 to 10 foot deep trench. City spokesperson Dave Romero says other workers frantically tried to dig the men out but didn’t make it to them in time. Hern and Romero were pronounced dead on the scene by medical officials.

This serves as another reminder of how important it is to be trained in the proper precautions and dangers of trenches and excavations. Once it happens, it’s too late, there’s no time to prepare. As a first responder, be aware when this type work is going on in your district or response area – don’t take chances, know how to protect yourself. And, if you’re involved with the project from the beginning, preplan each job with the utmost precaution.

According to OSHA, excavation and trenching are among the most hazardous construction operations. This type work presents serious hazards to all workers involved. Cave-ins pose the greatest risk and are much more likely than other excavation-related accidents to result in worker fatalities. Other potential hazards include falls, falling loads, hazardous atmospheres, and incidents involving mobile equipment. The regulation that covers requirements for excavation and trenching operations is OSHA 1926.650.

What’s the difference between an excavation and a trench?
OSHA defines an excavation as any man-made cut, cavity, trench, or depression in the earth’s surface formed by earth removal. This can include excavations for anything from cellars to highways. A trench is defined as a narrow underground excavation that is deeper than it is wide, and no wider than 15 feet (4.5 meters).

Why is it important to preplan the excavation work?
No matter how many trenching, shoring, and back-filling jobs you have done in the past, it is important to approach each new job with the utmost care and preparation. Many on-the-job accidents result directly from inadequate initial planning. Waiting until after the work has started to correct mistakes in shoring or sloping slows down the operation, adds to the cost, and increases the possibility of a cave-in or other excavation failure.

A big part of being safe, is being prepared. Knowing as much as possible about the job or work site and the materials or equipment needed is a best practice. Here are a few things OSHA recommends you consider about the site.

        1. Traffic
        2. Proximity and physical conditions of nearby structures
        3. Soil
        4. Surface and ground water
        5. Location of the water table
        6. Overhead and underground utilities
        7. Weather  conditions

OSHA Excavation and Trenching Standard applies to all open excavations made in the earth’s surface, including trenches. Strict compliance with all sections of the standard will greatly reduce the risk of cave-ins as well as other excavation-related accidents. See the resource below to learn more.
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Katrina’s Bittersweet Reminder

Friday, June 03, 2011

Residents, family members and friends of the Gulf coast, particularly Louisiana and Mississippi, know the devastation Katrina left in her wake. They can vividly remember the pictures of stranded New Orleaneans on rooftops, floating on scrap metal and wood, houses completely submerged or demolished and looting occurring merely as a means for survival.

What people may not know is that if it weren’t for the highly qualified rescue teams that rushed in to save stranded people, the loss of life would have been substantially worse.


In his recently published book, “Lost in Katrina,” author Mikel Shafer tells us that the first bona fide rescue team to arrive in St. Bernard Parish (one of the hardest hit areas) was a Canadian Task Force from Vancouver, British Columbia. Tim Armstrong, Task Force Leader for Vancouver Urban Search and Rescue (as well as a long time Roco Chief Instructor and head of Roco Rescue of Canada, Inc.) received a call from the head of B.C.’s emergency preparedness office about trying to help Louisiana hurricane victims.

Many of the Canadian task force members were Roco-trained and some were even familiar with South Louisiana since Roco’s corporateoffice is located in Baton Rouge (just 50 miles west of the disaster zone). So the folks in Baton Rouge immediately got in touch with Governor Kathleen Blanco’s office to work out logistics for the USAR team.

The trek from the great white north to the swampy bayous of St. Bernard started Tuesday, but the rescue efforts lasted weeks. Tim Armstrong said that he and the others from BC became known as the “Mounties” in the post-Katrina rescue community. Nicknames like this provided a bit of comic relief, well-earned in the chaos of a wind and water ravaged city. With all that had happened, having the “Mounties” in town fit right in. To this day, the residents of St. Bernard Parish remain very grateful to the Canadian USAR team, who aided them in their darkest hour.

As hurricane season 2011 begins this month, we look back with a sense of gratitude to all first responders and rescue pros who never hesitated to respond. Of course, we hope we never need them, but if we do, we know they’ll be there to pull us out of crisis and into recovery. Even if it means traveling nearly 3,000 miles.

2011 hurricane season is expected to be well above average.

NOAA is predicting 12-18 tropical cyclones, 6-10 hurricanes, and 3-6 major hurricanes of Category-3 strength or higher (111 mph or higher). They are also predicting the overall season to be 105-200% of average according to the Accumulated Cyclone Energy index (a method used to account for the intensity and duration of named storms and hurricanes).

Three important ingredients have combined to produce this year’s active hurricane  forecast.

Water temperatures in the Atlantic are above normal. Warm water is the fuel for tropical cyclones.Reduced wind shear over the Atlantic Ocean is expected to persist through much of the hurricane season. Less wind shear aids tropical cyclone development by ensuring the storms are not torn apart by winds aloft, and is critical to a storm’s long-term survival. We are currently in a multi-decade cycle of above average activity that began in 1995.

The good news? NOAA forecast does not consider landfall. We could have an extremely active hurricane season where most of the activity stays over water and has little impact on land. However, it only takes one land-falling hurricane to cause a disaster. Our best advice?

BE PREPARED!
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RescueTalk (RocoRescue.com) has been created as a free resource for sharing insightful information, news, views and commentary for our students and others who are interested in technical rope rescue. Therefore, we make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, or suitability of any information and are not liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. Users and readers are 100% responsible for their own actions in every situation. Information presented on this website in no way replaces proper training!