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LAFD promotes Confined Space Awareness

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

“It is our experience that the victims, would-be rescuers, and co-workers either fail to adhere to their emergency plans or simply do not have a plan in place, with catastrophic results... In the last year alone, we have responded to three confined space rescues.”- Battalion Chief Jack Wise of the Los Angeles Fire Department

Joint Effort for Confined Space Awareness Education


The California Department of Industrial Relations' Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) joined forces March 28 with the Los Angeles Fire Department to urge employers and employees to prepare properly for working in confined spaces. Officials from both agencies participated in a news conference where LAFD personnel gave a confined space rescue demonstration and potential hazards were explained.

Cal/OSHA launched a statewide confined space education and awareness campaign in February after seven confined space deaths and numerous injuries in 2011. Illustrating the variety of industries where confined spaces are common, those deaths occurred at a Fortune 500 pharmaceutical facility, a winery, a paint manufacturing plant, and a recycling center.

“Today's event with the Los Angeles Fire Department helps raise awareness of the hazards associated with working in confined space environments and the need for employers to have an effective emergency response plan in place before a critical situation arises,” DIR Director Christine Baker said. “As a national leader in workplace safety, Cal/OSHA is working with labor, employers, and public safety officials to eliminate this type of preventable fatality in the workplace.”

Some of the 2011 fatalities involved potential rescuers attempting to aid someone who had collapsed in a confined space. “These confined space deaths and serious injuries were all preventable had safety practices been in place. It is even more tragic that, in many cases, workers attempting to rescue their co-workers also fall victim,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Ellen Widess. “Confined spaces can be deceptively dangerous. Employers need to assess if they have such a hazard, identify and mark those spaces, [and] provide employee and supervisor training and on-site rescue plans and equipment.”

Cal/OSHA has posted extensive information about confined space hazards on its website at http://ohsonline.com/articles/2012/03/30/la-fire-department-boosts-confined-space-awareness.aspx
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Roco CEO Honored at 2012 Influential Women in Business Banquet

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Roco Rescue's president and CEO, Kay Goodwyn was recognized at the 2012 Influential Women in Business Awards yesterday. The annual event, sponsored by the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report, recognizes female business leaders who demonstrate exemplary business accomplishments and a dedication to their work, their communities, and the world.

For the past 30 years, Roco Rescue has thrived under her leadership. Perhaps because Goodwyn truly lives the mission: providing the highest quality rescue training, equipment, and services –while treating customers with courtesy, honesty, and respect.

Goodwyn is dedicated to her staff, her associates, and the thousands of students that Roco Rescue has trained and equipped throughout her tenure.

The awards banquet was held at the Crown Plaza on June 5, 2012. In attendance were a core group of female friends and fans who consider Kay L. Goodwyn a mentor and friend. She was also featured in the Business Report's cover story, which can be read here.

From all of us who know and love her, a great big congratulations KG. It's about time the community took notice of your incredible strength, talent and heart. For all the lives that have been touched and SAVED because you are in the world, we thank you!
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SKED Procedural Change with Cobra Replacement Buckles

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Here at Roco, we have recently discovered a minor issue when the SKED stretcher is updated with Cobra buckles. The Cobra buckle replacement system is attached by girth-hitching the components into the grommets. The girth hitch takes up more room in the grommets than the sewn loop that was previously used. This makes it more difficult to pass the vertical bridle rope through the grommet holes that we’re accustomed to using.

Skedco was contacted and has approved the following alternative method (see photo). After tying a square knot at the bottom of the SKED, bring the tail ends of the rope back up and pass them through the bottom grommet hole of the handles before tying the second square knot. Note: “Handle” holes may be used with the old style buckle system.

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New Study: Relying on Municipal Rescuers for Confined Space Response

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A study on the “reliance of municipal fire departments for confined space response” has been funded by a legal settlement following the deaths of two workers in a confined space incident in California.Research by the University of California, Berkeley, indicates that employers may be relying too heavily on local fire departments for confined space rescue.

These findings indicate that local fire departments may not have the resources to provide the specialized training needed for confined space rescue, especially when "response and rescue" times are such critical factors.


Key Points from Study


•  Confined space incidents represent a small but continuing source of fatal occupational injuries;

•  A sizeable portion of employers may be relying on public fire departments for permit-required confined space response; and,

•  With life-threatening emergencies, fire departments usually are not able to effect a confined space rescue in a timely manner.


Municipal Response Statistics


The study includes some very interesting statistics about fire department response times, rescue times, and capabilities. It also shows that rescue times increase dramatically when hazardous materials are present. For example, according to the report, fire department confined space rescue time estimates ranged from 48 to 123 min and increased to 70 and 173 min when hazardous materials were present.

According to the report, “estimates made by fire officers show that a worker who experiences cardiac arrest, deprivation of cerebral oxygen, or some other highly time-critical, life-threatening emergency during a confined space entry will almost certainly die if the employer’s emergency response plan relies solely on the fire department for rescue services.”

Researchers proposed that a more appropriate role for fire departments would be to support a properly trained and equipped on-site rescue team and to provide life support following a rescue.

Information excerpted from, “Confined Space Emergency Response: Assessing Employer and Fire Department Practices,” by Michael P. Wilson, Heather N. Madison & Stephen B. Healy (2012). This study was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (Feb 2012) and is available for purchase from Taylor & Francis Online.

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Mechanical Advantage Systems: How Strong?

Friday, May 11, 2012

In this and upcoming articles, we want to give you an idea of the actual forces that are put on M/A systems versus theoretical forces that you may read about. What’s the difference?

With theoretical, we’re referring to the amount of force that is “supposed” to be produced, while the actual is just that…the actual amount of force that is produced when the system is built and operated.

For example, calculating the force if you built  a 3:1 mechanical advantage “on paper” (theoretically) versus physically building the system. With the actual system, you would have to consider the friction loss created by the system components, so the “actual M/A” may be 2.5:1 with the same 3:1 system.

We decided to do some informal testing out at the Roco Training Center with the assistance of some of our students. The systems were tested as they are generally used in the field. The numbers shown are an average of the tests we conducted. The average is from a random sample of 10 to 20 tests using the same equipment and set up. We used a Dillon 25,000 lbf dynamometer with an error factor of +/-20 lbf. Note: These test numbers are designed as a reference only and should not be used as exact force data.

Test #1: Straight-line Pull

Student Set-up: Students were asked to pull on the line in a horizontal plane and exhibit as much force as they could without tugging/jerking the line. They were then asked to maintain that tension and tug/jerk the line.

Equipment Set-up: 12-ft of 1⁄2” PMI rope tied with a Figure 8 knot and attached to the dynamometer by two 2-ft pieces of 1” basket-looped webbing and two auto-locking steel carabiners to a rigid anchor with another basket-looped webbing loop.

What the Numbers Mean

First of all, they will serve as a baseline for future informal tests when comparing different types of M/A systems. We will evaluate the efficiency of the different systems as well as the possible forces that are put on the components of the system when using typical rescue haul teams.

Grasping at Ropes

One interesting fact that we can take away from these numbers is that even though the vast majority of the persons involved in the testing (random rescue students) weighedin excess of 160 lbs, they were only able to generate a maximum of 160 pounds of force on the 1⁄2-inch rope. This is largely due to the student’s ability to grasp and hold onto the 1⁄2” line before it pulled through their hands.

Similar tests using 9mm rope had an average force of 120 lbf for a single-person pull. There was only a slight difference of about 2 lbf between the 1⁄2-inch rope and the 9mm rope. We had anticipated a greater disparity as the rope diameter decreased and the ability to grasp the smaller line was lessened. However, we did observe that with the smaller diameter rope, haulers had a tendency to twist their hands making a 90-degree turn in the rope. This added additional friction making it possible to put more force on the line before it slipped.

Stay tuned as we continue this informal, real-world testing in future blog posts. It should be interesting to see how the forces translate from 1,2,3, and 4-person Haul Teams when using these various Mechanical Advantage systems.
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