Rigging for rescue - specific for confined-space rescue
When teaching rigging for rescue the most important issue to understand is how to belay lines when raising or lowering our personnel distances of 12 feet or more. There are many ways to accomplish this task, but when multiple rescuers must enter a space in which there’s a victim, there could be rope-management issues.
At Code Red Safety when teaching rigging for rescue classes we prefer to attach the belay line to an upper connection point in the front of the harness, as opposed to the rear dorsal connection, for a few reasons:
- It’s easy to disconnect once the rescuer reaches the bottom of the shaft.
- If there’s a mainline failure (i.e., tripod tips over, cammed pulley is released), the rescuer ends up hanging upright and is able to move freely. If the belay is attached to the dorsal connection, it’s difficult to move and/or self-rescue.
- Hanging from the dorsal connection is very uncomfortable and can create medical issues.
- Descending ladder: Fall protection can simply be a single Prusik loop wrapped around the rescuer’s umbilicus. In the event that the rescuer loses their balance or grip, they end up with their weight on the dorsal connection of their harness, but only for as long as it takes them to grab the ladder and reestablish their footing. A separate belay line can be used as well and removed when they reach the bottom.
- Being lowered: In the event of a failure of the lowering system or operator, the rescuer will be hanging by the secondary attachment that has been rigged. This would be an appropriate use of a belay line.
As a general rule in rigging for rescue, belay lines are attached to the rescuer with a direct tie-in. This avoids problems associated with a potential cross-loaded carabiner and/or an unlocked carabiner. However, in confined-space entries, we make an exception to that rule. Why? Because we don’t want the rescuer to become tangled in a line and unable to easily remove it from their harness. A rescuer should be attached so they can easily reach the connecting carabiner and open it to disconnect the belay line.
So what about the tag line? The OSHA standard requires all personnel entering a permitted space to wear a harness—specifically, a Class III harness with a lifeline or tag line. This line is attached to the dorsal connection of the harness. In the event that the rescuer becomes unable to remove themself from the space, they can be hauled out. This only works if the rescuer is directly in-line with the exit and there are no obstacles to get hung up on. The standard also states that if the use of these tag lines will entangle or endanger the rescuer, then they can do without it or disconnect it.
All of this training and experience guarantees you the best in the field when it comes to rope rescue techniques in confined space
rescue or high angle rescue.
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