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Rope Care & Cleaning Tips

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Life safety rope is an essential tool for rescue operations. It is your responsibility to learn and understand the capabilities and limitations of your life safety rope before using it. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions for the use, care and maintenance. Always double-check that the specifications of the rope match the intended use.

Keeping your rope clean is essential. Dirt rubbing into and against the fibers of your rope will deteriorate it. Here are some suggestions from PMI for cleaning static kernmantle rope.

Wash it: You can wash dirty ropes by hand or in a front-loading commercial washing machine using cold to warm water with a mild sap. Non-detergent soaps are best, but a mild detergent is acceptable if used sparingly. In any case, the soap used should not contain bleaching agents. Avoid top loading washing machines with agitators because they tangle the rope severely and might even cause damage from friction produced by rubbing of the synthetic rope against the synthetic agitator.

Lubricate it: Ropes may dry out and lose some flexibility as a result of washing. You can prevent this by occasionally adding a little fabric softener (about a cup of Downy Fabric Softener) to the rinse cycle during rope washing. Do not use more than this, or it might damage the rope.

Dry it: Dry your rope in a clean, dry area out of direct sunlight. Avoid: (1) commercial dryers, (2) placing wet ropes on a concrete surface, and (3) exposure to exhaust fumes. For best results, the rope should be laid in a loose coil or coiled around two objects in a low-humidity environment.

Write it down: Remember to record the cleaning on the Rope Log.

Keep it clean: After repacking, store your rope in a clean, dark, dry environment, away from exposure to acids, other harmful chemicals, noxious fumes or other abuse.

NOTE: Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use, inspection, care and maintenance of your rescue rope. Your life (and the lives of others) may depend on it, so take it seriously.
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River level at the USS Kidd in Baton Rouge

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

For those Roco students who have trained with us onboard the USS Kidd, these pictures will give you a prospective of how high the mighty Mississippi River is right now in Baton Rouge. These photos show the “extremes” of the river with the lower level being from years past. Thankfully, we’ve had no flooding in our immediate area. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who have been affected by the flooding and severe weather throughout the nation.

  
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Toddler Killed in Arkansas Building Collapse

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

As a first responder, it’s your worst nightmare… pulling up to a scene of a building collapse with a woman trapped under a beam screaming out for her child who’s buried in the rubble. That’s what happened yesterday in a small town in Arkansas that’s located about 55 miles west of Little Rock. With an incident like this – or the recent tornados with destruction everywhere in sight – would you know how to make the best use of the tools on your apparatus while waiting for USAR back-up?

Most rescues from collapsed structures are done within the first few hours by local responders – usually before USAR teams can respond. How long do you wait for USAR back-up, and what would you do in the meantime? You already know the structure is unstable, where do you start? Do you know how to protect rescue crews from further collapse as they enter these areas? Could your team handle the job that these responders had to deal with?

It’s a reminder to all of us of how important it is to be prepared for the unexpected. As an emergency responder or team leader, make sure you know how to protect yourself and your team in situations like this. Knowing the proper safety precautions along with simple, practical techniques using tools readily available can make a big difference in the first few minutes of a building collapse emergency.

Reported by Washington Post National

MORRILTON, Ark. — As residents and rescue workers arrived at the scene of a building collapse in central Arkansas, one woman trapped under a beam screamed out for her baby, and rescuers pulled a toddler’s body from the rubble of a century-old building.

Firefighters used everything from backhoes to their bare hands to sift through the wreckage of the two-story brick building hours after 2-year-old Alissa Jones’ body was found in the rubble and authorities had accounted for everyone else inside. At least six other people were injured when the building suddenly collapsed Monday.

Brian Matthews was at his auto detailing shop nearby when he heard the building crumble. When he looked up, “there was nothing but smoke,” he said. He was among those who rushed over and heard a woman screaming, “My baby is still inside.” He and other men pulled bricks and wood off the woman, exposing her injured legs as she continued to cry out.

Matthews said the girl showed no signs of life when would-be rescuers found her in the rubble of a bridal boutique and cosmetic store. Coroner Richard Neal later said the child was dead. The relationship between the woman and the toddler was not immediately clear.

Investigators, including the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, were trying to determine whether ongoing construction at the bridal shop was to blame. “We don’t know how or why they collapsed,” said Brandon Baker, the director of emergency management in Conway County. “We just know it was fast.”

One wall inside the building that remains standing is still a cause for concern, Mayor Stewart Nelson said Tuesday morning. “I’m standing here looking at it,” Nelson said. “It’s been creaking and groaning all night … We’re just waiting for that wall to collapse, too.” He said Monday that people had noticed similar noises at the building in recent days.

Of the 10 people inside the building, Baker said one died and four others were injured. Neal said one of the dead girl’s relatives was among the injured. A local hospital said six people were treated. Christy Hockaday, chief executive of St. Vincent Morrilton, said five of the six were released and the remaining person was in good condition.

Morrilton police resumed looking for any possible victims Tuesday, although they believed everyone was accounted for. Workers inserted tiny cameras into crevices between crumbled bricks to make sure no one else was trapped.

The collapsed building, on a corner in the heart of downtown, forced officials to shut down a portion of the town’s business district. Broken bricks and twisted metal slumped over the street corner where the building once stood. A broken clothes rack showed off a few colorful dresses, mostly untouched by the barrage of debris.

Down the street, Kylie Cole, 32, thought a train from the nearby depot collided with a car when she heard the building collapse. By the time she made it near the stores, all she could see was dust. “We heard people screaming and crying,” she said.
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Customized Rescue Training for Enterprise Products

Friday, May 13, 2011

These pictures are from the Enterprise Products (Port Allen, LA) class earlier this week at Roco Training Center. They scheduled a private “Refresher” course for the rescue team. It was a great class and an energetic group!

Here’s a comment from one of the students…“First time at Roco. Great facility & instructors. Learned new ways to perform activities. Just enough classroom time…most of the time needs to be spent in the field.”

Chief instructors for this class were Chris Hansen and Mike Adams. Thanks for hanging with Roco!

     
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Fast Track to Technical Rescue

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Orange (Texas) Fire Department recently completed Roco’s Fast-Track™ 120 course, which is arguably the ultimate rope rescue training experience. 

This 120-hour program works on techniques to produce a “well-rounded” rescuer who is capable of safely and effectively responding to a wide variety of confined space and rope rescue incidents.

Why is this type of training important for fire departments? OFD Deputy Chief, Jerald Ziller explains.

“A highly skilled technical rescue team is a tradition and has been deemed essential for the City of Orange Fire Department.  Our technical rescue team is partially funded by local industry which utilizes our team as the primary responders or as a secondary resource.  This collaborative effort has been in existence since the early 1990’s.  The residual effect of this training is a highly effective technical rescue team available to non-industrial situations that occur more frequently.  Most of the members of our team were trained by ROCO but we changed to utilize locally available training vendors for the past several years.  We realized that changing the basic foundation of our training affected the final performance of our teams training evolutions and possibly actual response capability.  We decided to return to ROCO for our basic training utilizing a ROCO instructor at our training facility for private training.  We feel the cost of the training as compared to the other vendors we have utilized recently is a greatest overall value.  The training was partially funded by a grant from the Texas Forest Service which added to the best overall value.”



The skills learned in Fast-Track™ 120 are put to work in many situations encountered by fire department personnel. “Technical rescue capability has been utilized by the Orange Fire Department on many occasions both in the industrial setting and during responses to other areas within the city.  The most frequent industrial responses are at shipbuilding or ship repair facilities.  We have utilized these skills for victims in a building collapse, construction sites, and manholes…

A relatively new service we offer to our industrial partners is confined space rescue stand-by.  Our pre-planning skills and industrial environment familiarization have been greatly improved by this service.  It gives our team members the opportunity to earn overtime wages with a neutral cost to the city because the industrial partner reimburses the city for the overtime charges,”  said Deputy Chief Jerald Ziller.

With a large concentration of industrial facilities within its response area, the Orange Fire Department has a unique responsibility to the community as well as the surrounding industries who play such a vital role in the local economy. In delivering the highest level of service, it is important for OFD Firefighters to be trained in both Confined Space and Rope Rescue techniques.

“A well-trained and equipped rescue team is essential to meet the needs of the community as well as local industry. An efficient and effective response only serves to further enhance the trust and confidence of all its citizens,” Roco Chief Instructor, Russell Kellar elaborated.

Fast-Track™ 120 is the ultimate rope rescue experience, preparing rescuers for an effective response to a wide variety of incidents. Perfect for municipal fire departments who need a good range of skills in confined space and rope rescue. OFD Fire Chief, David Frenzel, couldn’t agree more.

A special thanks to Roco Chief Instructor Russell Kellar for providing this information. Russ has been a Roco Instructor since 1993 and has taught Confined Space & Rope Rescue to many hundreds of students over the years at locations all across the nation. He is currently a Lieutenant with the Austin (TX) Fire Department and has served his community for the past 23 years. Russ is also a member of TX-Task Force 1 and has served on multiple deployments since joining the Task Force in 1997.

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How to Haul a Victim in Half the Time: Part 1

Thursday, May 12, 2011

As anyone who has ever been summoned to an industrial site for a confined space rescue, or has taken the opportunity to practice rescue drills in these facilities knows, sometimes the working area for the rescue team can be a tad cozy.  By “cozy” we mean cramped.  If there is the need for a haul of the rescuers or victim after a lower, these cramped conditions can cause multiple problems.  Consider it a challenge to overcome, and use your rope rescue know-how to come up with an efficient solution that will not only reduce congestion at the working area, but will most likely provide for a much faster haul of the rescue package.

First of all, if the space lends itself to a vertically mounted block and tackle, the problem is greatly reduced.  However, if there is no overhead anchor available and the use of a portable overhead anchor such as a tripod is not feasible then a “lane” for the haul team may be necessary.  At times, even the use of a vertically mounted block and tackle may require a solution to a congested working area.

Sometimes we are confronted with a very short throw between the mechanical advantage anchor point and the edge of the portal.  This may cause multiple resets of the haul system, be it a piggyback system or a Z-Rig.  These short throws with multiple resets will really slow down the progress of hauling the rescue package and can become a significant hazard when the need for rapid retrieval is needed.

If the opportunity presents itself, take advantage of a simple change of direction on the haul system.  At times, a single 90-degree change of direction can convert a short 3-4 foot throw into a throw many times longer.  We see this all the time on catwalks, yet it is often overlooked by our rescue teams when we throw scenario-based training evolutions at them.  Yes, it does require some extra equipment which typically amounts to a single sheave pulley, a carabiner, and a utility strap.  It also adds some frictional losses at that directional pulley, but the advantage gained by extending the throw from 3-4 feet to 20 or more feet, far outweighs the disadvantages of extra equipment, added friction, and time needed to make the change.

If a single change of direction doesn’t quite solve the short throw problem, consider two, or even more changes of direction in order to position the haul team in an area thatthey can “walk the haul” using their leg strength instead of being bunched up and using their arm strength only.  Of course, it gets to a point where too many changes of direction exhausts the equipment cache or creates so much friction that any advantage is lost.

As in any rescue situation, a good cohesive team is a great benefit.  If the situation causes the team to be bunched up on top of each other, remember to scan the area for an opportunity to open things up a bit.  Sometimes that change of direction does wonders for the ability of the team to take full advantage of their strength in numbers, and creates a situation where if needed, speed can be a lifesaver.

About the Author:
Patrick Furr, employed with Roco since 2000, has been actively involved with technical rescue since 1981. Pat is a Chief Instructor/Technical Consultant for Roco and currently resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He has also been an On-Site Safety Services Team Leader for Roco at a major semiconductor company in New Mexico for the past ten years. As a Chief Instructor, Pat teaches Confined Space Rescue, Rope Access, Tower Work/ Rescue and Fall Protection programs across North America. Prior to Roco, he served 20 years in the U.S. Air Force as a Pararescueman (PJ). His background includes eight years as a member of the 71st Pararescue team in Anchorage, Alaska, where he specialized in mountain and glacier rescue. Pat was a team leader of the 1986 and 1988 PJ teams that summited Mt. McKinley and augmented the National Park Service mountain rescue team. He also spent two tours of duty in Iceland where he put in multiple “first ascent” ice routes.
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Guidelines for Permanent Marking of Rescue Hardware

Friday, April 29, 2011

One of the most reliable ways to ensure that your rescue team is able to identify, and if needed, prove ownership of its equipment is by marking the gear with some type of visible identification. There are many ways to accomplish this ranging from color-coded paint or vinyl tape to affixing tags. Each has its shortcomings in terms of durability – and tags could potentially interfere with the function of the item. Here are some additional guidelines from our hardware manufacturer, SMC. For more than 40 years, it has been SMC’s goal to design and manufacture innovative gear that sets the standard for quality, reliability, and functionality.

The following information is intended to serve as a clear and simple guide concerning what is acceptable and conversely, what is not acceptable, when permanently marking by engraving into the surface of various types of hardware.

Note: Always adhere to your equipment manufacturer’s instructions.

First of all, it’s very important to note that it is only acceptable to use a “hand-held” electric type engraver to place identifying marks on hardware. Do NOT strike
with a hammer or stamps or ever use other similar methods. Once the marking process has been completed, ALWAYS inspect the product for proper fit and function PRIOR to returning it to service.

Carabiners:
For carabiners, it is recommended to mark along the spine of the frame. Do NOT mark on or near the lock or pivot tabs of the frame and stay away from rope bearing areas. Do NOT mark on the gate! For steel and stainless products, use a medium setting with medium to heavy pressure. For aluminum products, use a low setting with light to medium pressure. Depth of engraving equal to the thickness of a piece of paper should be enough to last the life of the product.

Pulleys:
For pulleys, it is recommended to mark on the flat outside surface around the axle. Do NOT mark ON OR NEAR the carabiner hole at the top of a pulley or anywhere on the becket of a double pulley. It is also important to stay away from all rope bearing areas.

Rappel Racks & Bars, Rigging Plates & Rope Protection:
When marking other hardware, always use caution and stay away from all carabiner holes, rope bearing surfaces and surrounding areas.

Coatings:
Most aluminum products are anodized. Some slight cosmetic oxidation may occur over time and this is a natural occurrence. Alloy steel parts are typically zinc plated. Engraving these products will remove the zinc plating in that particular area. One advantage of zinc plating is that it will move over and protect the exposed base material (self-sacrificing). However, this will eventually lead to the zinc in the area being consumed and may allow rust to begin to form. To help prevent corrosion, periodically wipe down plated products with LPS or a similar product.

As durable as modern rescue hardware is, it is important never to use any permanent identification method that would compromise the structural integrity of the item. With the clear guidelines provided by SMC, it allows the owner to have a reliable means of identifying their rescue hardware, while at the same time maintaining the original integrity of the item.

We remind you that it is important to review the user information and instructions for use for any rescue equipment item to ensure that the procedures outlined above are not conflicting with another manufacturer’s guidelines. Roco strives to provide practical and useful information to the rescue community, and this is one in a series of postings that we hope will help you become a better rescuer.
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5 Thought Starters for Rescue Team Practice Drills

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

If you’re the one who’s responsible for setting up proficiency training for your team, ask your team members to come up with some ideas that are different from your typical drill. You might be surprised with what they come up with. If you’re a team member, approach your training manager with some suggestions to change things up a bit. Once the idea is planted and your team starts to run a variety of training scenarios, the idea will catch on. In fact, team members may try to “outdo” each other on coming up with the next new scenario.

Here are some suggestions to get you started:

1.  Dig deeper into your equipment kits. Is there a piece of gear that is gathering dust? Some of the old tried-and-true pieces still have a lot of value. See if incorporating them into your next training session rekindles the thought that it was good back then and it still has a place today.

2.  Call some of your neighboring plants (or agencies) to see if they have a situation that is different from what you have. Do a little brainstorming over the phone and then re-create the situation during a train up.

3.  Review NIOSH Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program Investigations to see if there are lessons to be learned. There will be. Try to identify incidents that have similar space configurations and associated hazards as you may be summoned to.

4.  Do a thorough review of your existing rescue plans. Are they current? Have there been new spaces installed or reconfigured that would make existing rescue plans ineffective? If so, update the plans and practice any new procedures that the new plans may have generated.

5.  Sign up for Roco’s Rescue Challenge. This is a great opportunity to share ideas with other rescuers and learn new ways to approach your rescue response. It also satisfies annual practice requirements for individuals, and rescue teams. 
 
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Rescue I-Plus Class Photo

Friday, April 15, 2011

We had a great group at the March, Rescue I-Plus open-enrollment class in Baton Rouge. With 30 students from Louisiana to Alaska, the class was a great learning experience as well as a lot of fun. Roco Instructors for this class included Chief Instructor Russ Kellar (Austin) , Rob “Soup” Campbell (Baton Rouge); Bob Kauer (New York); Brent Glidden (LaPlace, LA); and Keith Pridgen (El Dorado, Arkansas).

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Rescue Plans…What is required?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

We had a very interesting inquiry regarding OSHA’s requirements for rescue plans and wanted to share it with you.

Reader’s Question: Does OSHA 1910.146 (k)(1)(v) state that a plan must be developed by a rescue service before an entry can be made? Can entries be conducted with the understanding that a rescue service has the competence to rescue someone without seeing the space prior?


Section (k)(1)(v) of the regulation states that the employer shall…“Provide the rescue team or service selected with access to all permit spaces from which rescue may be necessary so that the rescue service can develop appropriate rescue plans and practice rescue operations.” [Emphasis added]

First of all, it’s important to note that the term “plan” as used in safety-related regulations and standards such as the Permit-Required Confined Space (PRCS) standard, can have a more general meaning than what rescuers typically think of when they refer to “rescue preplans.” When rescuers refer to “rescue preplans,” what usually comes to mind is a very specific, detailed plan for rescue from a particular space.

Although the regulations do not specifically state that a “plan must be developed by a rescue service before an entry can be made,” the regulation assumes that a properly selected (and evaluated) rescue team or service will develop appropriate rescue plans, and requires that rescuers be given access as necessary to develop those plans. OSHA makes it very clear, however, in Non-Mandatory Appendix F, the Preamble to the Final Rule, Summary and Explanation of the Final Rule, and its Compliance Directive on Permit-Required Confined Space, that it interprets the regulation to require rescue plans. [See links below.]

How specific a “rescue plan” must be in order to meet OSHA requirements can be determined by answering this question…“How detailed must the rescue plan be to enable me to safely perform a timely rescue from the permit-required confined space being entered?” Generally speaking, the simpler and more generic the space and the entry, the simpler and less detailed the plan must be. The more complex the space and the hazards, the more specific and detailed the plan must be. And, the more likely the rescue service should see the space and/or a representative space in advance.

As such, the degree and content of the rescue plan should be determined by the rescue service – and it must be provided access to do so. Ultimately, however, it is the employer’s responsibility to perform an adequate evaluation of the prospective rescue service. The viability of the rescue plan should be demonstrated; therefore, proving that the rescue service is staffed, equipped, available, and proficient in performing timely rescue from that particular space (or representative space). The employer must be confident that the rescue service can “Talk the talk, and walk the walk.”

When evaluating the capabilities of a rescue service, Non-Mandatory Appendix F provides guidelines for doing so and specifically references “rescue plans” for the types of spaces involved. It is also important for employers to note that while it is “not mandatory” that the evaluation is performed in exactly the same way; you still have to reach the same result. In other words, it is a non-mandatory means of meeting the mandatory requirements.

Section B (1) of Appendix F asks…
Does the rescue service have a plan for each of the kinds of permit space rescue operations at the facility?

Is the plan adequate for all types of rescue operations that may be needed at the facility?

Note: Teams may practice in representative spaces, or in spaces that are ‘worst-case’ or most restrictive with respect to internal configuration, elevation, and portal size.

Appendix F also offers recommendations for determining whether a space is “truly” representative of an actual space. [See link below.]

You can also refer to Roco’s Confined Space Types Chart (click here to download) which illustrates various confined space types for rescue practice and planning purposes.

In summary, prior to permit required entry operations, the employer must afford the selected rescue service access to the permit spaces they may respond to for the purposes of rescue planning.  The degree and content of the rescue plan should be determined by the rescue service. The rescue service must be prepared and proficient in rescue from the “same type(s) of confined spaces” in terms of configuration, access, and hazards.

IMPORTANT: The information in Roco Rescue Online is provided as a complimentary service for emergency response personnel. It is a general information resource and is not intended as legal advice. Because standards and regulations relating to this topic are typically performance based, and compliance with those standards and regulation is often dependent on the specific circumstances and conditions at hand, it is always important to carefully review all relevant standards and regulations, and to follow the proper protocols specific to your company or agency.

ONLINE REFERENCES:


OSHA 1910.146 Appendix F.

OSHA CPL 02-00-100, 5/5/1995, Application of the Permit-Required Confined Spaces (PRCS) Standards, 29 CFR 1910.146  Appendix D, V. Rescue, D. Combinations: 1. a.

OSHA 1910.146 Permit-Required Confined Spaces, Section: 2, II. Summary and Explanation of the Final Rule
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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!