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Back In Beaumont for Industrial Rescue I/II

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Here’s an “ON THE ROAD” segment by Roco Chief Instructor and Director of Training, Dennis O’Connell.

I just got back from Beaumont, Texas, where I taught our new 50-hour Industrial Rescue I/II. In this class, we focus on preparing responders for the unique challenges of industrial rescue – whether you’re a member of an industrial team or a municipal firefighter who may respond to plants or manufacturing facilities.

And if you’ve taken ROCO classes in the past couple of years, you know we’re constantly updating our techniques and equipment as we try to find safer and more efficient ways to do rescue.

It’s been a number of years since ROCO has conducted training in Beaumont and it was good to be back. The BEST Complex offers excellent facilities for industrial and municipal emergency response training – both in firefighting and rescue. The multiple confined space props and 6-story training tower make it an ideal place to conduct high angle and confined space rescue classes. These training props give students realistic anchoring and industrial confined space rescue situations that enhance the techniques taught during the class.

Roco’s Industrial Rescue I/II class provides rescue skills and techniques to handle the vast majority of rescues a team would face in a plant or refinery. The class covers both inert rescue procedures as well as on-air IDLH entry rescue. The first three days are dedicated to skills and techniques while the last two include a variety of scenario-based exercises using the skills learned. One of the nice things about the Beaumont facility is the ability to practice rescues from all six types of confined spaces as referenced in OSHA 1910.146 as well as practicing rescue from height which is often overlooked during confined space training.

This particular class consisted of a mix of firefighters and industrial plant and refinery workers – some brand new to the rescue world and others with a lot of experience. Some of the more experienced rescuers took the class as a “back to basics” review and to meet their annual “confined space types practice” for the year. However, even the experienced rescuers in the class found a few new ways to use the equipment and get the job done.

Most of the students were from the local Beaumont-Port Arthur area, but we did have students from other parts of Texas and some as far away as Alaska. I think the Alaskans were ready to head back to the “minus 30 degree” weather north of the Arctic Circle after experiencing a week of temperatures hovering around 100 degrees!
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Petzl Recall for GriGri 2′s

Friday, July 01, 2011

For our readers who may use Petzl GriGri 2’s, we wanted to make you aware of this recall. Please check the serial number of your device to see if it’s in this range. You will also need to contact Petzl as indicated below. As noted, this does not apply to the previous generation GriGri.

NOTICE FROM PETZL
As a measure of precaution Petzl has decided to take the following actions:

Increase the mechanical strength of the handle on all GRIGRI 2’s since serial number 11137. Recall all GRIGRI 2’s with the first five digits of the serial number between 10326 and 11136, and replace with a new revised GRIGRI 2. Petzl will pay for all shipping costs to complete this replacement.

If you have a GRIGRI 2 (D14 2O, D14 2G, D14 2B) with the first five digits of the serial number between 10326 and 11136, stop use immediately and contact Petzl America to initiate an exchange.

Contact Petzl America in one of two ways:

  •     By phone: 1 (800) 932-2978 (toll free)
  •     By email: grigri2recall@petzl.com
The previous generation GRIGRI is not concerned by this recall.
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How to Haul a Victim in Half the Time: Part 2

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Well, maybe not half the time, but certainly some fraction of the time.

In How to Haul a Victim in Half the Time: Part 1, we covered ways to reduce the time needed to haul a rescue package by taking advantage of changes of direction.

Here, we want to address OSHA and ANSI guidance regarding retrieval systems – specifically mechanical devices used for rescue.

OSHA 1910.146(k)(3) states “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.

Additionally, OSHA follows the ANSI Z117-1-1989 approach that was in effect at the time of OSHA 1910.146 promulgation, which states, “A mechanical device shall be available to retrieve personnel from vertical type PRCS’s greater than 5 feet in depth.” It also adds, “In general, mechanical lifting devices should have a mechanical advantage adequate to safely rescue personnel.”

Subsequent revisions to ANSI Z117 included the recommendation that “The mechanical device used should be appropriate for rescue service.” The revised standard adds,“Mechanical lifting devices should have a mechanical advantage of at least four to one and the capacity to lift entrants including any attached tools and equipment.”

Two key points that must be considered: (1) OSHA follows the ANSI approach that was in effect at the time 1910.146 was promulgated which did not recommend a minimum mechanical advantage ratio; and, (2) The rule makers intended to leave a degree of latitude for the rescue service to select a lifting device that is most appropriate for the particular situation encountered.

Roco’s rule of thumb is… the mechanical device used should be appropriate for rescue service – and the employer should not use any mechanical device that could injure the entrant during rescue, which would include a mechanical device with too great a mechanical advantage (MA) for the number of people operating the system. Here’s a guideline we use for determining the proper number of rescuers for a particular system – it should take some effort to haul the victim, but not so much effort that it wears the rescuers completely out. And, it should not be too easy, or you won’t as readily feel if the victim gets hung-up.

Because 1910.146 is a performance-based regulation, it does not specify the rescue procedures that are most appropriate for any given PRCS. It leaves this to the responding rescue service based on their assessment of the PRCS in terms of configuration, depth, and anticipated rescue load. Current ANSI Z117 recommends that the MA “should” be at least four to one. Notice that it does not state “shall” and thus the discretion of the rescue service is taken into account. A generic recommendation of a 4:1 is a good start but should not be considered as a catch-all answer to the problem of lifting the load. Even a 4:1 may not be enough if the person doing the hauling is not strong enough and may require a greater M/A in order to remove the load from the space.

Must we always use a minimum MA of 4:1, or could there be justification in using an MA below the 4:1 ratio when there is a need to provide a faster means of hauling the rescue package? Consider the possibility of reducing the mechanical advantage ratio when there is plenty of haul team members. If you have 4 haul team members for a 250 pound rescue package, do you really need that 4:1 MA? Consider going with a 3:1 or even a 2:1, especially if the throw is short and the haul is long. However, keep in mind that the package will be traveling much faster by reducing the MA – so it is imperative that a “hole
watch” be assigned to monitor the rescue package and be ready to call an immediate “STOP” should the package become hung up.

Caution: If you’re using a piggyback system, make sure the haul team does not outpace the individual taking in the mainline slack through a ratchet device. Should a lot of slack build up in the mainline and the haul team lose control of the haul line, the resulting free-fall of the load could spell disaster. Of course we always encourage the use of a safety (belay) line, but on rare occasions the urgency of the rescue may warrant not using a safety line on the victim.

Ultimately it is the employer’s responsibility to evaluate the selected rescue service’s ability to provide prompt and effective rescue. If the rescue service is able to demonstrate their capability using an MA that is less than the current ANSI recommendation, then that would meet the performance-based nature of the standard. In reality, by using a reduced MA, the time required to extricate the rescue package can be cut by 1/3 to 1/2 depending on the situation. In certain emergencies, that saved time could very easily mean the difference between a successful rescue and a body recovery.
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Roco Teams Up with BEST in Southeast Texas

Monday, June 20, 2011

Roco Rescue, Inc. and the Beaumont Emergency Services Training Complex (BEST Complex) have announced a partnership to deliver more options in rescue training for fire departments and industry.

In addition to open-enrollment rescue training, Roco’s private courses will also be available.

Upcoming Roco events scheduled at BEST include:

Oct 5-6,  2011 – Rescue Challenge
Dec 5-8, 2011 – Rescue IV-Advanced Rescue Scenarios

The partnership marks a return for Roco to the Southeast Texas facility. For many years, BEST (the former Beaumont Fire/Rescue Training Center) provided a great venue for Roco’s rope rescue and confined space training programs. The location is convenient and economical for many clients in the Texas industrial corridor and surrounding states.

Based on the early success of the partnership, both Roco and BEST say they will be adding more dates and courses to the 2012 open-enrollment training schedule. New offerings will include Confined Space, High Angle, Structural Collapse and Trench Rescue. This will provide additional training options for municipal and industrial rescue teams in the area. It’s a win-win-win.

For more information about Roco training at the BEST facility, contact  Aimee Sims at Roco (800-647-7626).
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Manhole Rescue Effort Ends in 2 Deaths

Friday, June 17, 2011

Authorities are investigating the suffocation of two North Carolina workers in a water system manhole—one of whom apparently died trying to rescue the other.

The victims were employees of Triangle Grading and Paving Inc., a Burlington NC-based utility contractor that has been cited dozens of times for federal health and safety violations.

In 1997, a company employee burned to death on a job. Luis Castaneda Gomez, 34, of Durham, and Jesus Martinez Benitez, 32, of Clayton, perished in the accident about 6 p.m. EDT Tuesday (June 7) in a section of water system under construction off U.S. 70. The men had been laying water lines in the system, near the Durham-Wake County line.

Lack of Oxygen Note


North Carolina’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health is investigating.

Officials are not sure what happened, but the local fire department and county hazmat team that responded to the scene found that the 12-foot-deep hole had insufficient oxygen to sustain life, said Capt. Don Ladd of the Durham County Sheriff’s Office. They donned breathing equipment to bring the men out.

Rescue workers recover the bodies of two men who suffocated in a manhole in Durham, NC. “What you’ve got down in the bottom [of the hole] is any number of things—whatever is connected to that manhole, could be methane gas or could be any number of things—that would cause oxygen deprivation,” said Allen McNeely, deputy director of NC DOSH.

The men were in a shaft that goes down 12 to 14 feet, then leads into a 4-by-6-foot bunker where several water pipes come together, Ladd said.

911 Call Released


Authorities believe that either Gomez or Benitez was having trouble breathing, or was unconscious, in the hole and the other went down to help him before he, too, suffocated.

A third worker at the site flagged down a passing motorist to call 911. According to a tape of the 911 call, the pair had been in the hole for about 15 minutes and were unconscious when the motorist arrived.

The third worker said he had dropped off Gomez and Benitez 30 to 45 minutes earlier to retrieve some equipment and returned to find both men in the shaft, not moving, Ladd said.

The men were pronounced dead at the scene.

Company Responds


Triangle Grading & Paving installs large and small sanitary sewer, water lines, storm sewer, pump stations and vacuum sanitary systems. The company released this statement Wednesday:

“Triangle Grading and Paving grieves with the families of Jesus Martinez and Luis Gomez, two valued members of our utility division who lost their lives in an accident at one of our projects yesterday.

“We take great pride in our safety and education programs at Triangle. We do everything in our power to prevent injuries and deaths in a dangerous occupation. Over the past three years, we have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to ensure the safety of hundreds of employees.

“Yesterday, a deadly incident occurred in spite of those efforts, and we are now cooperating with the North Carolina Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Division’s investigation of this matter and conducting our own investigation as well. Because our investigation is ongoing, we will not have further comment about this today.”

Extensive OSHA History


Triangle Paving has an extensive record with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The company has been cited 68 times for violations since 1997—most of the charges, if not all, significantly reduced in severity and monetary penalties before settlement.

The company settled three cases with OSHA in the first three months of 2011, two cases in 2010, and four in 2009. Still pending is a 2010 case involving one willful and two serious violations. A willful violation is OSHA’s highest level of infraction and carries major penalties.

In that case, the company was fined $57,000 for failing to protect workers from cave-ins while they labored in an eight-foot trench at a project on Fort Bragg. The fine has tentatively been reduced to $40,000, but the case remains open.

“Triangle Grading and Paving has a history of trenching violations and is fully aware of required safety standards to protect its workers,” Suzanne Street, OSHA’s area director in Raleigh, said last year in announcing the fines.

“This employer continues to put workers at risk by ignoring these safety standards.”

In 1997, an employee of Triangle burned to death after a hydraulic line on the bulldozer he was operating ruptured and the fluid triggered a fire that engulfed the cab. The company paid $3,300 in fines for poor maintenance, infrequent inspections, and inadequate training.

Record Not Checked


Asked by a local NBC affiliate how Triangle continued to operate with such a checkered safety record, a North Carolina Department of Labor official replied: “We’re not in the business of putting people out of business, but we are in the business of making sure that it’s a safe working environment that workers work in.”

In Tuesday’s accident, DOL is investigating whether the company followed training, equipment and other requirements for working in enclosed spaces with poor ventilation, said department spokesman Neal O’Briant.

Jerry Morrone, Durham Engineering Supervisor, told the NBC affiliate that the city had not known about Triangle’s safety record. Morrone said his department had checked “at least three” references but had not checked DOL records. He said none of the references mentioned Triangle’s safety record.

“It is a tragedy,” McNeely told the Charlotte News Observer. “If it turns out that it was one worker going in, and the other went in to save him when he got no response, then it’s almost what you’d expect a buddy to do.”
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