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Tower Rescue Operations

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  • Tower Rescue Operations

    I thought this would be a great topic to throw out there and grab a lot of great ideas and responses.
    Are you on a rescue team or department that performs tower rescues? If so what is your game plan? What kind of system does your lead climber implement? What are your successes and failures. Let's hear it all, honesty breeds good training.

    Mike Donahue
    Specialized Rescue Forum Moderator
    "Training Prepares You...For Moments That Define You

  • #2
    Hey Mike,
    Thanks for the topic - I guess I'll go first.

    I've found that using the word "tower" seems to induces panic within the training dept. I've been advised by another FD in our area that they've had better reception from their training dept. by using the term "elevated platform." Whatever works, I guess. The typical response in my area is "we will call somebody else." But I've yet to figure out who that "somebody else" is. My guess is that when you're looking up a cell tower at a worker hanging by his fall restraint and the cameras are rolling, that "somebody else" may be the guy standing next to you.

    We've been able to conduct some good tower rescue training in our response district. We've used both monopole and open lattice towers. We've used a 30' monopole at our city's airport. The monopole housed a landing light on its top and has a 3/8" cable with foot pegs. This was a great training prop for a cell tower simulation. We were able to use our cable grabs and work positioning straps for fall restraint. We usually have a two person climb team for cell towers. The first climber usually has a belay setup and takes up the mainline. The mainline rope bag stays on the ground so the first up just needs a pulley threaded with a figure eight attached to his harness. The second climber ascends with related rescue/EMS equipment if required (LSP, etc). The first climber lowers the mainline and belay connections down to the victim and the second climber clips them into the system. We use a ground based lower, so once the mainline is rigged into the top pulley the ground team can rig for lower. We just vector the mainline to free the victim from the fall arrest lanyard. This type of rescue can become more challenging if the victim is located on the top platform.

    We've also been using a 70' lattice light tower at a local HS football stadium. This has been a good prop to practice using cable grabs, work positioning, bypass lanyard and Azzards. The Azzards were a hard sell due to the sport climbing equipment required to run them. But, they're a great tool to have in the bag when you don't have a fall protection system in place on the tower.

    Our basic set up is: Yates Tower harness with croll, AZTEC kit, Petzl Grillon, Petzl I'D or micro rack, and related hardware. I'll include a few pics of the above locations (in the monopole pic, we were picking off a weighted rope bag hanging from a lanyard - so there's an extra rope bag up there). Stay Safe.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by bottrigg; 08-30-2010, 12:07 AM.

    Comment


    • #3
      Great Posting

      Great posting Bottrigg..loved the pics. Your department is fortunate to be able to train on actual towers. It seems these days that insurance and fears of lawsuits hamper training in some really desirable locations.
      Your operation seems simple and streamlined and as we all know that's the name of the game.
      What type of belay system do you implement?....we often use the 540 Rescue Belay. Tandem prusicks are stilled used however the 540 is gaining popularity.
      Have you ever tried using the Petzl ID as a belay device?
      Stay Progressive,
      Mike Donahue


      "Training Prepares You...For Moments That Define You

      Comment


      • #4
        How we Rescue

        If we can't catch them with the Aerial Ladder, we'll pluck them off using an Army Air Rescue. May seem like we're "cheating" but we have the resource and they're more than willing to use them.....
        "Be LOUD, Be PROUD..... It just might save your can someday when goin' through an intersection!!!!!"

        Life on the Truck (Quint) is good.....

        Eat til you're sleepy..... Sleep til you're hungry..... And repeat.....

        Comment


        • #5
          We are fortunate enough to train on towers that go as high as 300 feet. We have an antenna farm that has all sorts of jungle gyms to play on. Each climber uses a dual lanyard system that loops over the pegs as they climb. The lead guy sets up the escape line. Tandem prussiks are all we use. The 540 is junk once it gets any dirt or wet rope near it. The I'd is a nice piece of gear, but prussiks are cheap and work great. The second guy will take up the belay system. The third guy will bring the haul rope, can be rigged from high or bottom depending on the height. We like the SMC lite steel carabiners for weight savings and are switching completely to them for all systems. All of our gear bags have padded should straps for comfort. We are fortunate enough to have plenty of willing monkeys on our team that are more than happy to climb all over these things.
          Jason Brooks
          IAFF Local 2388
          IACOJ

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by ProgressiveRescue Specialized Rescue Forum Moderator View Post
            Great posting Bottrigg..loved the pics. Your department is fortunate to be able to train on actual towers. It seems these days that insurance and fears of lawsuits hamper training in some really desirable locations.
            Your operation seems simple and streamlined and as we all know that's the name of the game.
            What type of belay system do you implement?....we often use the 540 Rescue Belay. Tandem prusicks are stilled used however the 540 is gaining popularity.
            Have you ever tried using the Petzl ID as a belay device?
            Stay Progressive,
            Mike Donahue


            Mike,
            I have no problem with the 540 up on a tower. It's a great tool if the load is directly under the device. I would say that we use the TPB most of the time. Currently, we only have the NFPA L, I'Ds so we have chosen not to belay with them. The new buzz seems to be the MPD. I've not used them yet, but Rescue Response has some great video of them in action. I like the mirrored system approach and the fact that they are a bearing pulley (unlike the I'D). Anything that removes LRH and changeovers is a plus in my book. The only augment I can't win with these new devices is the cost issue. The manufacture demonstrates the cost savings of the MPD in comparison to each individual component it replaces. But, when you already have all of these components, it's a hard sell to the chief. Also, I'm not sure you can use the MPD as a traveling brake, so that would be a change from the I'D.

            I share Jbrescue's opinion of the 540 if the rope is wet or muddy. Also, sheath fuzz can become a friction issue. I've found that 7/16 is no prob (with the green 540), but 1/2" sucks most of the time (in the blue 540). I see most of our guys fighting the 540 when it's rigged in a horizontal plane. The friction caused by the rope sag creates issues. As with any belay rig, the 540 requires lots of practice and refinement of technique. Also, I don't see too many people using the extra friction carabiner required during lowering belays while using the 540 (as per the instructions). Personally, I'm just as happy with the TPB if I'm on a tower or on top of a building.

            Jbrescue may recognize the set-up in this pic. It was invented by an guy from Ohio. He solved the issue of lead climbing with step bolts.
            Attached Files

            Comment


            • #7
              just a thought

              Referring to the first photograph in Bottrigg's first post: What will happen to the patient if the main line (the "skate block" line) fails? I have no tower rescue experience, but I would be more comfortable "belaying the deflection" from the tower to prevent the patient from swinging into the tower (or the ground) should the main line fail.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by bottrigg View Post
                Jbrescue may recognize the set-up in this pic. It was invented by an guy from Ohio. He solved the issue of lead climbing with step bolts.
                Great picture, that is exactly what we use. I bet this came to you from Mr. Kovach himself.
                Jason Brooks
                IAFF Local 2388
                IACOJ

                Comment


                • #9
                  Have you had a chance to play with the new CMC G rated Aluminum beaners? very light...very nice.
                  "Training Prepares You...For Moments That Define You

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by servantleader View Post
                    Referring to the first photograph in Bottrigg's first post: What will happen to the patient if the main line (the "skate block" line) fails? I have no tower rescue experience, but I would be more comfortable "belaying the deflection" from the tower to prevent the patient from swinging into the tower (or the ground) should the main line fail.
                    Good point. We will usually use a skate or ground tag line. The skate block will usually put you down about 15' foot off the base of the tower. It's effective for towers with aprons. I don't usually put the tag under MA. As you mention, with these two systems there will be pendulum back into the structure. You could run a third line as a tensioned track line to try and isolate the issue.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ProgressiveRescue Specialized Rescue Forum Moderator View Post
                      Have you had a chance to play with the new CMC G rated Aluminum beaners? very light...very nice.
                      We have some of the twist locks. Some of the guys seem to think the carabiners are overly complicated to open. You can open them one handed with no problem after a little practice. I would get the screw locks if I could do it over again. The only problem I've found is that they don't mesh with my Petzl gear very well. They are thicker than the steel carabiners. On the (NFPA-L) I'D when you close the side plate the latch doesn't close behind the carabiner without pressing it hard. Also, they don't fit in the top hole of my Petzl ascenders - which is a pain. I like all my gear to mate up so I tend to stick with SMC steel lites for tower operations.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Some good points and pics. I work for a mid-sized department west of Philly, I've been looking for a tower rescue class but they all seem to be located out west. Anyone know of any tower rescue classes in or around SE PA?
                        John D. Calamia, BS, NREMTP, FP-C
                        Firefighter/Flight Paramedic
                        Broomall, PA

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Jason/Bottrigg,
                          would one of you explain the step bolt rig there?
                          looks to be a marathon lanyard with an 8mm purcell on it that cinches on the step bolt?
                          thanks a bunch guys,
                          mike
                          My opinions posted here are my own and not representative of my employer or my IAFF local.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by stickboy42 View Post
                            Jason/Bottrigg,
                            would one of you explain the step bolt rig there?
                            looks to be a marathon lanyard with an 8mm purcell on it that cinches on the step bolt?
                            thanks a bunch guys,
                            mike
                            Mike, I'm not sure on the exact specs. The main lanyard was about 7 or 8 feet and had sewn ends. I believe it was in the 10-11mm range and I'm unsure if it was a static or dynamic rope. The lanyard ran through a small anchor plate that connected to your harness. This plate was similar in design to the Petzl Paw. It had several small holes and the lanyard ran through two of these which allowed for adjustment of both ends of the lanyard. At the end of each lanyard tail was a prusik. The prusik was used in place of a hard link for step bolts. The operation was the same as with a bypass lanyard. As you climbed you sort of draped the prusik over your ring and middle finger so when you grabbed the step bolt, the prusik would be on the bolt. Once you got the hang of placing the prusik on the bolts it was a very easy system. The idea behind the rig was to have fall protection for step bolts that don't have a cable way.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              We just use a tri-link as the harness attachment point. There are two "legs" that are probably 3-4' long. They are 10mm rope. Each has a prussik on them. They can be used to climb the pegs as described. Or, they can be wrapped around the leg of the tower to tie off. We just put a stopper knot in the end of each leg of the rope. Simple and inexpensive.
                              Jason Brooks
                              IAFF Local 2388
                              IACOJ

                              Comment

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