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Rescue Airmen Angle for New Rescue Techniques

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

1/21/2011 - CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla– by Staff Sgt. Leslie Kraushaar / 920th Rescue Wing Public Affairs

What do you do with an empty, 300-foot tall, metal building that, at one time, was used to build Titan rockets?

Air Force Reserve pararescuemen (PJs) and combat rescue officers (CROs) from the 920th Rescue Wing, Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., found a way to put it to good use which included ropes, pulleys, climbing gear, helmets, gloves, and lots of sweat.

Dressed in air battle uniforms – tactical vests, body armor, radios and ballistic helmets – that added weight and limited mobility, the pararescuers assumed the task of hauling a “survivor” up-and-down the steel platforms, that at one time held a Titan Rocket.

Rescuers, active duty and reserve, are attending a two-week course, Roco Rescue, held here that hones their rescue skills in a not-so-ordinary way.

“We simulate anything – any type of situation that these guys may find their selves in and have a victim to rescue,” said Mr. Ishmael “Ish” Antonio, tactical program manager and instructor for Roco Rescue.

A retired PJ himself, Mr. Antonio travels all over the country with his team of instructors to “refresh” the rope skills of PJs and CROs.

“We don’t tell them how to do their jobs – this is just a refresher for them. These are perishable skills, ones that must be maintained,” said Mr. Antonio.

As the first scenario unfolds, it’s clear the Rescuers have some work ahead of them – this is where it gets sweaty.

Leaving a 220 pound dummy on the concrete floor of the complex, the PJs, CROs and instructors, make the climb up the metal staircases, stopping at about 315 feet or so above the ground.

Then the clock starts – first, one PJ rappels down to the “victim” to package him up for hoisting; second, the other four or five team members make up a rope and pulley system from the gear they have on them; third, the PJs and CROs then start slowly hauling up the PJ and “victim” by heaving on the pulley systems and rope systems they made; fourth, pull the PJ and “victim” to the safety of the steel platform.

As one team finishes this – a team several stories above them, starts to rappel a PJ to pick up where that team left off for the samegoal: to get the “victim” up to the highest point in the massive complex.

“You really learn how to use the tools in your pocket,” said Tech. Sgt. Adrian Durham, reserve pararescueman with the 920th RQW. “Keeping everything as simple as possible is our goal here.”

The ROCO Rescue course specializes in high-altitude, high-angle and confined space rescues. The use of the very tall building works well for them to hoist a PJ and “victim” up very high, severe areas.

This training is required for all PJs and CROs both active duty and reserve.

“We are considered rescue technicians,” said Capt. James Sluder, reserve combat rescue officer with the 920th RQW. “This course and our knowledge of ropes give us the credibility to be able to come in and do the rescue in a timely, safe fashion.”

Using this training comes in handy with deployments always looming in the future and the humanitarian rescues that can happen at any time. In fact, this exact training was put to use during their last deployment in Afghanistan where they had to extract and save over 300 Afghan Nationals from buried vehicles after an avalanche swept away a road last year. “You never know what you’re going to get until you get there,” said Mr. Antonio.

The PJs and CROs are a unique group. Their knowledge of ropes sets them apart from the other Special Forces entities and allows them to perform their duties in technically challenging areas, such as mountains, ravines, rivers and, in some cases, industrial areas, said Mr. Antonio.

“You have to be able to think quickly in these situations,” said Sergeant Durham. “Time is always against you and the best protection from being killed is speed.”

The 920th RQW is an Air Force Reserve Command’s Combat-Search-and-Rescue Unit. There are two geographically separated units, each with their own Guardian Angel Weapons System (CROs, PJs and search, evasion, resistance, escape specialists) at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. and Portland International Airport, Ore.

The wing is comprised of 1,500 Airmen who live by the motto… “These things we do, that others may live.” These rescuers are prepared to go anywhere at any time. According to one of the Pararescuemen, “Our mission tasking is on short notice, we go anywhere. In 72 hours, we’ll be wheels up, ready to go anywhere.”
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Roco BLOG hits outstanding numbers!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

In the past 7 months, we’ve had more than 18,000 hits on our Blog! We’d like to thank everyone for reading– and encourage you to ask a question of our Tech Panel. Or, let us know what you want to read more about – Techniques? Equipment? Standards & Regulations?

We’re here to get you the answers and information you need to do your jobs more safely and effectively – so let us know how we can help! You can email your suggestions to techpanel@rocorescue.com. Help us keep the numbers climbing in 2011 and stay in the loop!
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Industrial Rescue I/II…Practical Skills, Industrial Focus

Monday, January 03, 2011

New for 2011! Practical skills training with a focus on compliance, but without the certification testing.

We’ve had many requests for a course that provides the skills, techniques and problem-solving scenarios for industrial rescue without the NFPA certification testing. Focusing on OSHA compliance, Roco’s new Industrial Rescue I/II will prepare rescuers and rescue teams for industrial confined space and elevated rescue as well as “rescue from fall protection.” Here’s more…

INDUSTRIAL RESCUE I/II (50 Hours)

This course offers a very practical, hands-on approach to industrial rescue that will provide the skills necessary to meet OSHA compliance guidelines for a competent rescue team or rescue team member.

Participants will be taught safe, simple and proven techniques that will allow them to effectively perform confined space and elevated rescues from towers, tanks, vessels and other industrial structures. Rescues from simulated IDLH atmospheres requiring the use of Supplied Air Respirators and SCBA will also be practiced. This course is designed for all rescuers, both industrial and municipal, who may be required to handle confined space rescues in industrial settings. It also includes Rescue from Fall Protection (rescue of suspended workers) as well as OSHA Authorized Entrant, Attendant and Supervisor training.

The problem-solving scenarios can be used to document annual practice requirements in representative spaces as required by OSHA 1910.146 and as referenced in NFPA 1006. For training conducted at Roco’s training facility, scenarios will be completed in all six (6) types of confined spaces. At other sites, the number of types completed will depend on the availability of practice spaces.

OSHA 1910.146(k)(2)(iv)
Ensure that affected employees practice making permit space rescues at least once every 12 months, by means of simulated rescue operations in which they remove dummies, manikins, or actual persons from the actual permit spaces or from representative permit spaces. Representative permit spaces shall, with respect to opening size, configuration, and accessibility, simulate the types of permit spaces from which rescue is to be performed.

NFPA 1006 A.3.3.38 Confined Space Type
Figure A.3.3.38* shows predefined types of confined spaces normally found in an industrial setting. Classifying spaces by “types” can be used to prepare a rescue training plan to include representative permit spaces for simulated rescue practice as specified by OSHA. (*Roco Confined Space Types Chart)
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CMC founder Jim Frank shares some insights

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

During a recent visit out to California to work on a new and improved Roco/CMC harness, we had the opportunity to visit with Mr. Jim Frank, Founder and Chairman of CMC Rescue.

For 34 years, Jim has been active with the Santa Barbara County Search & Rescue Team. In 1978, he founded CMC Rescue to provide quality equipment for rescuers. His pioneering efforts in technical rescue have had a substantial influence on the evolution of the products and techniques used today. He currently serves on the NFPA Technical Rescue Committee, the NFPA Technical Committee on Special Operations Clothing & Equipment, the ANSI/ASSE Z359 Committee on Fall Protection, the ASTM F32 Committee on Search & Rescue, and the SPRAT Safe Practices for Rope Access Work Committee. We asked Jim to share some insight with us… particularly on his experience and involvement with the NFPA Technical Rescue Committee over the years.

Have NFPA standards had the positive impact they were supposed to have?
In our many conversations with end users, we find that the standards are still not clearly understood. Manufacturing standards such as NFPA 1983 increase the ability for the user to make intelligent decisions between various products. I’m also told that they provide the ability for departments to buy with grant money since it is a nationally recognized standard. User standards such as 1006 and 1670 provide a great framework for the knowledge needed to perform rescues. However, they do not necessarily equate to the competence and experience needed to safely and effectively perform a rescue.

NFPA 1983 concerning Rescue Equipment has been updated/changed over the years. Do you think it’s where it needs to be at this time?
Standard 1983 is continuing to grow in coverage and address a wider scope of products used in rescue. We’re now talking about adding litters and patient extrication devices where in the past it was limited to protective equipment for the firefighter or rescuer. However, the effectiveness of 1983 is completely dependent on the consumer making the decision to select “certified” products instead of accepting a product claiming to “meet or exceed” the standard or choosing a non-certified product.

Do you think the NFPA needs to consider adding professional qualifications for emergency escape for firefighters?
In general, no. While training is essential, access to emergency egress should be available the first day on the job. It could possibly be included as part of NFPA 1001 Standard for Fire Fighter Professional Qualifications.

What is the biggest change you’ve seen in rescue over recent years?

An expansion in the number of agencies getting into rescue and a growing interest in developing rescue capabilities in other countries where it has not been a tradition. In the area of equipment…lower stretch ropes, lighter hardware with better performance figures, mechanical belay devices like the Petzl ASAP, Traverse 540, and the CMC MPD. There’s also been some trend toward full-body harnesses. From a business standpoint, there has been an increase of even more off-shore products that are competing on price rather than quality and performance.

If you had to give one piece of advice to rescuers, what would it be?

Continue to hone your professional skills with up-to-date training and regular practice. The rescue technician’s skills are still the most important ingredient in a successful rescue.
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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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