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Retrieval vs. Entry Rescue

Monday, October 25, 2010

There’s no doubt about it, confined space entry is risky business. A first consideration should always be to try and eliminate the known and potential hazards – or, even better, “engineer out” the need for entry when possible. If it’s not possible (or feasible), and entry must be made, then as part of OSHA’s Permit-Required Confined Space standard (1910.146), the employer must take action to protect its workers. This regulation requires employers to develop and implement procedures for summoning rescue and emergency services, for rescuing entrants from permit spaces, and for preventing unauthorized personnel from attempting a rescue.
Planning for rescue of the entrant should always be approached in a logical hierarchy. The first choice for rescue should always be “self-rescue.

However, there are too many lads named “Murphy” lurking about to be able to rely on this as the only means of rescue. That leads to the next option, which is “retrieval rescue.” This means that retrieval (or rescue) of the entrant(s) can be made without anyone else having to enter the space.

NOTE: It’s important to note that the hierarchy of rescue needs to be followed even when an “entry rescue team” is located on site. For example, when an entry is made into a simple vertical vault, a retrieval system must be used even if a trained rescue team is standing by – again, preventing rescuers from having to enter the space unless necessary.

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. The retrieval system shall include a chest or full body harness, with a retrieval line attached at the center of the entrant’s back near shoulder level, above the entrant’s head, or in such a way to present a small enough profile for successful removal of the entrant. In certain instances wristlets may be used. The retrieval line shall be attached to a fixed point outside the space or to a mechanical device. For vertical entries more than 5 feet in depth, a mechanical device such as a retrieval winch or mechanical advantage rope system shall be available.

Relying on non-entry retrieval rescue requires a thorough and honest assessment of the retrieval system’s ability to function as intended should the need arise. Are there any entanglement issues within the space that would cause the retrieval line to fail? If the entrant must travel around any 90 degree corners or between levels, will the retrieval line work? Any and all potential causes of retrieval system failure would require the need to plan for entry rescue.

One of the advantages of non-entry retrieval rescue is that oftentimes it can be performed by the attendant. Modern retrieval equipment may utilize powerful gear reductions or rope mechanical advantages and are usually quite easy for the attendant to learn to operate. It is encouraged and quite common for the attendant to be trained and capable of performing non-entry rescue. The attendant is prohibited, however, from entering the space to perform rescue unless properly trained and equipped for ”entry rescue,” which is the last option in the hierarchy of rescue.

NOTE: Even if the attendant is trained and equipped for entry rescue, he or she must be relieved by another authorized attendant before abandoning their attendant duties.

Entry rescue requires the rescuer(s) to enter the confined space, thus possibly exposing them to the same hazards as the victim. That’s why it is critical for rescuers to be trained and equipped with the proper PPE to protect themselves from the hazards involved. In fact, OSHA states that if you don’t have the proper PPE or training, DO NOT ATTEMPT THE RESCUE!

This warning is driven by the great number of “would be” rescuers dying in confined spaces while attempting to save a life. Safe, successful entry rescue requires sufficient training in the proper techniques, a proficiency in the use of the appropriate PPE and rescue equipment, and the ability to recognize and identify the hazards and potential hazards in confined spaces.

Again, it’s important to keep in mind that there are many permit required confined spaces where non-entry retrieval is a viable option – and it should be used whenever possible. Vertical utility vaults with no entanglement hazards, horizontal entries with no corners or elevation changes are just a few. The proper course is to always perform a thorough assessment of the space to determine which type of rescue will be needed and to make sure the appropriate rescue response is in place should the entrants need assistance.
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In the Trenches with Santa Fe Fire Dept

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

We received this great email and photo from Jan M. Snyder, Battalion Chief for the City of Santa Fe Fire Department. Thanks for the feedback, Chief!

“I want to thank you for all your help and coordination this year with all the City of Santa Fe Fire Department has done with ROCO. Last week’s Technical Trench class was a huge hit, the guys loved it and Tim, Rich, and Brent were great. The quality of the ROCO programs and instructors has never failed us and we look forward to further training opportunities in the future.”


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Roco Canada

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pictured is our Rescue I-Plus class, September 20-24, 2010 in North Vancouver, BC. Another great group of students from Canada, Alaska and New York!

Roco Chief Instructor Tom Morgan and Instructor Randy Engemoen enjoyed getting to know the group, and as you can see the weather cooperated nicely on picture day.


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‘What pride to be Chilean’: Rescue effort galvanizes Chilean citizens

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

By Greg Botelho, CNN - October 13, 2010 3:40 p.m. EDT

Copiapo, which could have been the site of mass mourning had the miners’ rescue effort gone awry, instead became home to a patriotic festival.

The strong national pride was omnipresent: from the red, white and blue Chilean flags that permeated the rescue site to the chants that rang out as the miners rose to the surface.

It was clear, too, many miles away — whether it was the hugs and tears of joy among the throngs watching the scene on a flickering big-screen TV set up in a Santiago city square, the champagne corks popping at the Chilean embassy in Washington, or countless bite-sized conversations in the vast reaches of cyberspace where the Chilean miners were a top trending discussion on Twitter.

“What emotion! What happiness! What pride to be Chilean!” wrote Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, on his own Twitter page.

Like many emerging countries, Chile has not been without its challenges. It continues to emerge from the shadows of dictator Augusto Pinochet’s rule from 1974 to 1990, when up to 30,000 people vanished or were killed because of their political beliefs. Economic disparities and political divisions still exist, with the global recession having a real impact in this Andean nation. Yet, its past and recent challenges notwithstanding, Chile has also emerged as a model in Latin America and the world, given its solid economic base and fervent democracy.

Get the whole story and see the heartwarming video!
(It’s worth seeing the commercial first.)
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Rescue Team Profile – Motiva-Convent

Monday, October 04, 2010

As part of our mission to develop a rescue community, we are asking teams to share their rescue experiences with the blog group. This month, Motiva in Convent, LA relates an interesting real-rescue their team faced.

This Motiva team has been working together for 20 years! They practice quarterly to keep their skills sharp, and have had to use their skills in action. Like so many of our guys, they find the Petzl ID to be a very useful and user friendly piece of equipment.

Here’s the story the Motiva team shared.

While cleaning in the engine room of a tug, a contractor had fallen off a grating onto the engine of the tug boat. Convent’s ERT reported to the dock, donned life vests and made their way into the engine room where they got a briefing from the tug captain and started assessing the patient. The patient was complaining of shoulder, leg, and back injuries.

Once the initial medical assessment was completed, a Sked stretcher and backboard were requested because of the narrow stairway leading to the engine room. A haul team was positioned on the dock using a crane as a high point. Crane was “locked & tagged out” once put into position. A main line and tag lines were lowered onto the barge and a 4:1 hauling system was set-up on the dock (multiple directionals were used because of the dock configuration).

A secondary medical evaluation was performed, and the patient was packaged in the Sked. The patient was then brought up from the engine room. Once on the deck, two safety lines (1head/1feet) were placed on the patient because he had to be slid along the handrail to be removed from the tug.

Once on the barge, the patient was connected to the main line and hauled up to the dock. From this point, medical care was transferred to Acadian Ambulance.

Special thanks to James Louque, HTU-2 Operations, V.E.R.T. Captain, C-Shift at Motiva’s Convent Refinery for taking the time to share their experience.



The Rescue Team at Motiva-Convent Kneeling: Brady Edmonston, Derres Gautreaux, James Louque 2nd row: Ryan Roussel, Ted Roussel, John Guidry, Brian Crochet Back row: Todd Devare, Jesser Louque, Edward Turner, Randy Rogers
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Physical Training Prepares Miners for Rescue

Monday, September 27, 2010

SANTIAGO, CHILE – After nearly two months trapped in a collapsed copper mine, 33 miners begin training Monday for the final chapter of their underground odyssey: escape. As three simultaneous rescue operations slowly drill through 2,250 feet of solid rock, the men are receiving detailed instructions on the latest plans to haul them out one by one next month inside a torpedo-shaped rescue capsule dubbed “The Phoenix.”

A series of minor failures with drilling equipment and the challenge of carving out the nearly half-mile-long rescue tunnel have made the entire rescue operation uncertain. If the current three rescue operations fail, a Plan D calls for the men to climb ladders for hundreds of feet, a physical task so daunting that a personal trainer has been hired to coach the miners.

Jean Christophe Romagnoli, an adviser to both the Chilean military and professional athletes, has spent the past two weeks teaching the men light calisthenics in preparation for more strenuous phys-ed classes that begin Monday. “They have a two-kilometer stretch of tunnels; the men are walking the tunnels, and some of them are jogging as a group. We are using the U.S. Army fitness training as a model, so the men sing while they jog.” Romagnoli said the singing was a safety precaution to make sure the men kept their heartbeat between 120 and 140 beats per minute. “We know that if their heart rate goes above 140, they can’t sing and jog at the same time.”

Despite numerous challenges to training the men via videoconference from above, Romagnoli said the men were enthusiastic about the new routines. “One of the advantages we have is these guys are strong, they are accustomed to working their arms and upper body. This is not a sedentary population we are dealing with; they will respond quickly.” While rescue procedures call for the men to spend just 20 minutes inside the rescue cage, Romagnoli is preparing the men to stand immobile for as long as an hour. “Ideally we leave them with an ample margin of error,” he said.

Over the weekend, Chilean navy engineers delivered the first of three rescue capsules to the mine to start testing the custom-built cagelike structure. The Phoenix, painted with the colors of the Chilean flag, weighs just under 1,012 pounds and is equipped with WiFi communications and three oxygen tanks that allow the men to breathe for as long as 90 minutes. The capsule also has two emergency exits for use if the tube becomes wedged in the rescue shaft. In a worst-case scenario, the miner will be able to open the floor of the capsule and lower himself back into the depths of the mine.

Once the rescue tunnel is complete, two people – “a miner and a paramedic with rescue training” – will first be lowered into the hole, Jaime Manalich, Chile’s health minister, said as he outlined what he described as a 500-person rescue operation. Once lowered into the hole, the paramedic will administer medications and intravenous hydration to the men. Sedatives will be used if necessary to calm the men before the ride to the surface.

Using health charts and interviews, the rescue coordinators are classifying the miners into three groups: the able, the weak and the strong. The miners will be evacuated in that order, allowing the first group to serve as a test case for the more critical second group. The fittest men will be taken at the end of the operation, which is expected to last nearly two full days.

About the author: Jonathon Franklin is a special correspondent for the Washington Post, where this article was posted on September 27 .
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To Pre-rig, or not to Pre-rig?

Monday, September 27, 2010

We received an interesting question about pre-rigged systems from one of our subscribers. The TechPanel had some helpful comments to share, so we have re-posted the info here. It’s a great topic.

Here are some things to consider about leaving systems pre-rigged.First of all, whether to pre-rig systems or not depends a lot on the types of rescues you will be doing.

Pre-rigged systems make sense for most industrial and municipal teams who have rope equipment designated specifically for rescues. However, it makes less sense for climbers and wilderness personnel who will be using the same equipment for multiple uses and putting systems together based on a specific need. This also reduces the amount and weight of equipment they must carry, which is a big concern. However, it also requires a high level of proficiency in a variety of systems in order to build systems safely and in a timely manner.

Next, let’s clarify what we mean by “pre-rigged systems.”

“Plug-n-Play” – These are systems that come pre-built and seem to require little training to operate. These “Plug-n-Play” systems may work for a specific location or type of rescue but may not work in every situation. Training for these systems should address what to do if the device/system malfunctions, or if it will not work for the type of scenario you may be faced with.

“Customized Pre-rigged Systems” – These are customized pre-rigged systems that rescuers build for site-specific needs and their team’s needs using existing equipment and training.

Confined space and rope rescue can be broken down to three core tasks… (1) Lowering, (2) Safety line Belay, and (3) Mechanical Advantage/Retrieval systems. You can build pre-rigged systems that make sense for your specific needs. Many of the teams we work with have adopted a three bag system.

For example, one rope bag is designated for “Lowering” along with the typical equipment needed for a lowering system (i.e. descent control device, carabiners, anchor straps, padding). This will provide a pre-rigged system that will handle most of your lowering needs. You may decide to supplement that with another anchor strap and a pulley for a high-point directional, etc.

Your “Safety line/Belay” bag can be set up the same way with enough carabiners and shock absorbers attached to the rope bag to allow for at least two rescuers and a victim. The third bag of rope (“Mechanical Advantage/Retrieval”) with a simple, pre-built Block-n-Tackle hauling system and its own anchor straps will give your team an “immediate means of retrieval” for either the main line or a safety line retrieval. With a few additional pieces of hardware, you will be able handle the vast majority of urban rope/confined space rescue scenarios.

We find that for industrial rescue teams or municipal fire and police rescue squads, these pre-rigged systems make sense. They save set-up time and get a rescuer to the victim as quickly as possible, which is especially critical for an IDLH emergency.

Many times teams will arrange their equipment so that it’s easier to inventory rather than what’s the fastest way to deploy it. For example, if you have twenty carabiners, why not have them attached to a rapid deployment bag type system rather than in a hardware bag that a team member will have to go through and pick out what is needed?

Our best advice would be to look at your team’s response area and consider the types of rescues that may be needed. You can then customize and build pre-rigged systems that make sense for your team. “Plug-n-Play” systems may handle most of your rescue situations or they may be part of a larger pre-rigged rescue system like the one above. Using a “pre-rigged systems” approach saves time, cuts down on confusion, and uses equipment more efficiently – especially when the pressure is on.
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Are safety lines required in an actual rescue?

Friday, September 24, 2010

This question was submitted by Thomas Vitti from the Chevron Fire Dept. in Salt Lake City, Utah.

In the event of an actual rescue is a safety line necessary?

Good question… the answer is YES and NO. This question falls into somewhat of a gray area. Much depends on what type of rescue you’re doing; who the safety line is for; and, most importantly, the function of the safety line. Here, we’ve put together our ideas in relation to OSHA regulations, interpretations and our own rescue experience. Then, of course, there’s our motto… “There’s a safe way and a SAFER way,” which we always keep in mind.

Most of the time, the answer for rescuers is YES. Again, one of the most important questions in determining the answer is the function of the safety line during the particular rescue. In most instances, the safety line functions as fall protection, and OSHA requires that all employees be protected from fall hazards. That includes employees performing rescue.

As a rescuer, it is expected that you would be capable of designing a rescue system that maintains two points of contact and meets all fall protection requirements. For example, if you (the rescuer) are being lowered into or out of a space, you would be on a single system (one point of contact) and will therefore need another point of contact (safety line) to act as your second point of contact and fall protection. In this instance, your safety line functions as your fall protection. Once you’ve been lowered to the bottom of a confined space, and you move away from the portal, your safety line then functions as an external retrieval line. However, if it will not contribute to your rescue (or will make it more hazardous), according to OSHA 1910.146, the line is not necessary.

Is a safety line required for the person being rescued (i.e., the victim)? For the most part, YES – it should be part of the preplan for that particular type of rescue. While OSHA requires that all employees be protected from fall hazards, if the patient’s condition is critical (heart attack, suspended unconscious, IDLH atmosphere, etc.) and set-up time for the safety line would cause a delay in getting the proper medical treatment, the rescue team may be justified in not using a safety line for the victim/patient. Additionally, certain circumstances may not require the application of a safety line system for the victim. For instance, if an employee falls and is suspended by a fall arrest system, you don’t need to add another safety line to do the rescue.

Roco’s recommendation…  YES, a safety line is always required for a rescuer – even in a confined space,  where it can also be used for communication purposes. Safety lines for the victim/patient are also highly recommended when the victim will be suspended. But we also realize that there may be life or death circumstances when “quickness of rescue” is more important than the added precaution of using a safety line on the patient. Because Fed OSHA does not specifically address this issue, in certain circumstances, it may be justifiable not to do so.

It is understood that there are unexpected emergency events with many possible mitigating factors to deal with – making it impossible to regulate every potential scenario. So, this leaves some room for judgment based on the circumstances. But if your “justification” is that you did not have sufficiently trained personnel or sufficient equipment to employ a safety line (fall protection) system, OSHA is likely to conclude that you were not properly prepared to perform rescue for your particular work environment.

OSHA does not dictate how a rescue is to be performed. OSHA’s only performance standard for a rescue team is that they are capable of performing rescues in a safe, efficient and timely manner. That’s why we emphasize preplanning, preparing and practicing for the most likely scenarios at your site. Rescue preplans allow teams to plan for safe, effective rescue systems that would include fall protection as part of the plan – in fact, the safety line system could be pre-rigged, bagged and ready to go. The importance of preplanning for rescue is also addressed in OSHA 1910.146(k)(1)(v), which refers to providing 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. (Of course, “representative spaces” are also acceptable.)

As a final note, where OSHA does not have a specific regulation that addresses a particular hazard or means of protection, it may cite an employer for violating the General Duty clause – which requires an employer to provide a workplace free of recognized hazards. In citing under the General Duty clause, OSHA can reference national consensus standards, such as ANSI and NFPA, to establish a recognized hazard and acceptable means of protection. These consensus standards can also be invaluable resources for compliance guidance.

Note: It is always important to follow your company’s policies and procedures concerning emergency response operations as well as all relevant standards and regulations for your industry.
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Tower Work and Rescue at Roco Training Center

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Roco Chief Instructor, Pat Furr teaches a three-man team from Anchorage, Alaska. This Tower Work & Rescue course was conducted at the Roco Training Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Despite the summer heat of the deep south, team members Tom Savage, Nathan Munford and Jeremy Waltz learned some great skills and had a memorable time. Thanks for choosing Roco for RESCUE!



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