Roco Rescue



Roco Quick Drill #13 - Silent Drill (Know your job, do your job!)

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Many rescue scenes (and teams) are plagued by confusion because of too much communication. And, if you have three people assigned to do a task, each one will have his or her own idea of how it should be done, where the system should be anchored, etc. Many times the discussion that follows eats up valuable time and slows the team’s ability to get rescuers into a location and get hands on the patient.

This drill is designed to instill confidence among team members, to ensure that rescuers understand their responsibilities at the scene and to help rescuers understand that there are different ways to accomplish the same goals safely. It also helps in getting rescuers to look at the entire scene and understand where their assignment fits in the big picture. It encourages team members to anticipate and solve their own problems.

1) Assign a safety officer/drill manager.

2) Locate a simple vertical simulated space to enter or a balcony or roof edge. The goal is to lower the rescuer into an area.

3) Safety officer/drill manager describes the event to the team and assigns task(s) to each team member.

4) Instructs the team that they are not allowed to speak unless a dangerous condition is observed.

5) Instructs team members to gather the equipment necessary to accomplish their job or task. (Remember No Talking!)

6) Once team members have the needed equipment, move them to location and let them start rigging to get rescuer into the space or over the edge.

7) Once rescuer is lowered into area, leave systems rigged and debrief entire team on the rigging, the order that it was done and what could be done differently.

The difficulty of this drill can be increased by doing an entire simulated rescue or adding SCBA/SAR to the station requirements. You will find that a lot of unnecessary chatter that occurs at rescues will be reduced. It will allow you to see who truly understands “where and how” each component of a rescue system fits in the overall operation. It also encourages rescuers to look at the big picture and anticipate what, where and when they will need to have their assignments completed without waiting for direct supervision.

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Roco QUICK DRILL #12 Patient Packaging (Tandem Rescuers)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Quick, efficient patient packaging is a crucial factor in every rescue. Generally, if spinal injury is suspected, two rescuers will be needed to properly manage and package the patient for movement.

In the drill below, keep time for the patient packaging portion. Then inspect for errors and correct as needed. Discuss patient handling and review methods that may reduce the overall time. For this type of drill, timekeeping can begin as soon as rescuers enter the room where the drill is being conducted or once lowered into an area to begin the packaging process.

1) Place a simulated patient/manikin in a given area. This area could be at the end of a short lower or just inside another room that will be considered a “confined space.”

2) Rescuers will enter one at a time as if being lowered into a space.

3) The person running the drill will provide patient condition information and dictate what packaging equipment will be available to the rescuers.

4) The equipment will be “lowered” to the rescuers – or simulated if using a room as the confined space.

5) Rescuers will use the equipment provided to package the patient, and then connect the patient to the retrieval/haul line.

For the next evolution, add requirements for the rescuers to maintain “immediate means of retrieval” lines at all times. Then, step it up by requiring rescuers to don SCBA/SAR during packaging (don’t forget air to the patient!). Or, dim the lights, if possible, lowering visibility and requiring the use of headlamps.

Remember, start off slow. Increase difficulty and speed/time requirements as rescuers become more comfortable and proficient. Working with your team to improve packaging skills will make them more efficient and better rescuers.

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Roco QUICK DRILL #11 - Patient Packaging (Single Rescuer)

Monday, April 11, 2016

One of the skills that separates a good team from a great team is patient handling; how quickly and efficiently a patient can be packaged for movement. Patient packaging and lashing is one area that can save a lot of time during a real rescue. This becomes even more critical when rescuers are wearing SCBA. Good patient packaging skills can significantly reduce the time rescuers and the patient are exposed to hazards.

Here's the drill for patient packaging with a single rescuer:

1) Lay out a main line and safety line system with needed materials to attach to a litter for both vertical and horizontal movement as well as for taglines and attendant.

2) Lay out the necessary equipment to lash and build both vertical and horizontal bridles for a given litter. Make sure it is laid out the same way for each participant.

3) Properly place simulated patient/manikin in litter.

4) Tell participant what packaging system is to be built. Example: Sked vertical with attendant or stokes horizontal with taglines.

5) Log the time it takes for each team member to package the patient, build a bridle and make main and safety line connections.

6) Once the team member is finished, inspect the system for accuracy and correct any mistakes. Discuss the technique used and what can be done to decrease the time needed to complete the system. Possible areas to decrease times include: (a) enhancing the individual's skill level; (b) streamlining the order in which the packaging was completed; or (c) considering pre-rig options for the litter to save time during a real rescue.

7) Repeat the drill alternating with vertical and horizontal rigging and the use of tagline and attendants. This drill can also be extended to backboard lashing, short spine immobilizers or webbing hasty harnesses.

Some type of patient packaging is going to be involved in every rescue scenario where a patient needs to be extricated. This could be from a confined space, high angle environment, or low angle/low slope. Being proficient in packaging is critical for rescue efficiency as well as overall patient care. Practice often!

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Roco QUICK DRILL #10 - Tripod Quick Drill

Monday, February 08, 2016

Rescue tripods provide a mobile and rapidly deployable high-point anchor option for confined space emergencies. Like any piece of equipment, however, it has its limitations. It is important that your team becomes proficient with this tool in training to ensure fluid deployment during a live rescue. 

There are two primary topics to review regarding rescue tripod operations: Set-Up and Rigging. Here’s a quick drill to help you and your team become more proficient in its use.


1. Find an area to review your tripod operations. Ideally, train over a potential rescue space, keeping in mind safety around any open spaces. As with any training exercise, always use proper PPE and take proper fall protection precautions. If you don’t have access to potential spaces or are training in a municipal environment, improvise with a closed street manhole or create a mock-up opening with wood or cardboard.

2. Deploy your tripod. While you are deploying it, discuss the following with your team:

a. When do you setup the tripod in a rescue operation? Prior to rescuer entry? During packaging stage? During extrication stage?

b. Do we setup the tripod over the space or in a safe area, then move the tripod over the space?

c. What type of patient packaging will be done and at what height will the tripod need to be in order to clear packaging out of space?

d. Tripod strengths at different height settings. Is height more important or strength?

e. Can the legs of the tripod be different lengths or rest on different elevated surfaces?

f. Should the tripod be tied down so it won’t tip?

g. Keeping resultant forces within the legs of the tripod to prevent tipping.

h. Insure correct assembly, including the use of the tripod’s chain to prevent overspreading the legs of the tripod.

Now that your tripod is assembled, move on to rigging.


Rig each of the following systems and raise and lower a load/weight. This shows the pros and cons of operating each system. Show how the resultant forces can be applied by the haul position or by patient movement outside the tripod footprint. In most cases, there are three rigging options for tripod operations. Rig each, while discussing each method’s strengths and weaknesses.

1. Block and Tackle System

a. Often pre-rigged and therefore rapid to deploy.

b. Will the length of the collapsed system create height constraints to remove the victim from the space?

c. Does the height of the tripod create any issues operating the cam of the system?

d. Rope length vs depth of space; what strength M/A will you be able to build?

e. Can the haul team keep resultant haul forces within the legs or footprint of the tripod to prevent tipping, or do we need to have a change of direction pulley?

2. Single Main Line with COD (change of direction) within the Tripod’s Footprint

a. Better option when the tripod’s height and victim clearance are concerns.

b. Enables the lower/haul team to operate remote of the space.

c. Necessitates an anchor point within the tripod’s footprint and an anchor point for the main line.

d. Allows for reaching greater depths than a block and tackle system.

e. Single line entering the space and allows for attachment of patient air bottle.

f.  Takes more time to rig.

3. Pass-Through Method

a. A solution when the block and tackle or single main line techniques will not work (no anchor point within footprint of tripod available).

b. Increased Mechanical Advantage (6x1).

c. Requires two remote in-line anchor points on opposite sides of the space.

d. Two traveling lines in the space.

e. Eliminates concerns with haul-resultant forces.

f. Most complicated of the three systems.

A properly deployed rescue tripod can be a game changer for a confined space rescue. As with any piece of equipment, continuous training with the device and its associated techniques is necessary to maintain “proficiency,” which translates into safety and efficiency! Always, train hard so that your team will perform when the call comes!

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Roco QUICK DRILL #9 - Belay Systems

Monday, November 30, 2015

Due to their relative simplicity, belay systems rarely see the dedicated training that is often given to the other elements of rescue, such as mechanical advantage or patient packaging. Just because you can rig a 540 Belay Device or tie a Munter Hitch does not necessarily mean you are proficient in their use.

It is important that the belayer can choose the proper belay system for the anticipated load and situation as well as understand the pros and cons of each system. Rescue teams must also be able to properly rig the system, troubleshoot any problems that might arise, catch the load and be able to safely transition from the "catch" to an emergency lowering system, if needed. 

There is a certain degree of finesse and anticipation involved with efficient belaying. It is an important skill only acquired through practice. Allotting more time to belay-specific training will provide payoff in smoother, safer operations during your next rescue.

1. As a team, discuss the belay needs of your environment (type of device or hitch, need for confined space rigging, high-point/low-point usage, one-person/two-person loads, etc.).

2. Divide your team into pairs and have each pair rig a specified device or hitch as a horizontal ground station.

3. While one member operates the device, the other attaches to the working end of the belay line and walks backwards to simulate a moving load. The team member on the line can also simulate a sudden load being applied to the rope at random intervals for the belayer to catch by pulling quickly on the working end of the rope.

4. If using the 540 Belay Device, develop proficiency in releasing a "stuck" load.

5. When using a Munter, work on body/hand position and tying off the Munter with a mule knot and releasing the mule knot while under load.

6. With tandem prusiks, practice converting to a lower system.

7. No matter what device or system, focus on maintaining a steady rate of rope progress through the device, while maintaining the proper amount of slack in the system (maximum 18 inches).

8. Have members switch positions and/or devices as they work on proficiency.

9. If time and training space allow, rig simple lower/haul scenarios where the emphasis will be on belay practice. In these scenarios, focus on the following:
       • Communication between the Rescue Master and the Belayer.
       • Maintaining the appropriate amount of slack in the belay system (no more than 18 inches).

Efficient belay skills are often taken for granted. Be sure to master the use of these critical, lifesaving systems!

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