TESTIMONIAL #1 From a Utah search & rescue training officer
From FRANK MENDONCA, Training Officer, Grand County Search and Rescue, UTAH
The Team Skills Rescue Workshop was enjoyably challenging. Too often, we teach our teams how to do something without teaching them why we do it a particular way. Reed (Thorne) spent a lot of time explaining the why behind the how. Without understanding the physics behind a procedure, most teams are unable to adapt their rigging to non-textbook rescue scenarios. If we were exposed to procedures in the seminar that differed from our SOPs, the instructors supported the RTR procedures with exceptionally sound mathematical and practical justification. Comparative analysis of various systems was enlightening.
RTR's abilities to tailor the training to a particular group was much appreciated. A team charged with backcountry rescue needs different training, equipment, procedures, etc., than an industrial rescue team. Reed seemed to have a genuine desire to show us ways we could decrease the amount of weight and bulk carried into the field without compromising system safety. Again, all his suggestions were supported with sound mathematical and practical justification. As a result, our team will be altering (and improving) some of it's rigging procedures.
We'll also be adopting the AZTEK kits...a simple, but ingenious and useful tool. After using them constantly in the seminar, we used them at a technical rescue less than 2 weeks later.
Classroom and field exercises were equally valuable. Since GCSAR had recently purchased an Arizona Vortex, I welcomed the considerable amount of hands-on experience with it...and the personal training and tips from the unit's designer. Because the field exercises were challenging, they were enjoyable and educational. Both Reed and Pat kept things moving at a pace that kept everyone involved and interested... there wasn't a wasted minute in any of the 10-hour days.
I personally believe that any technical rescue team, no matter how proficient, would benefit from this intensive, week-long training. Perhaps the best thing I can say about the training is that, at the end of the week, I was a smarter rigger...and a better rigger.
TESTIMONIAL #2 From a firefighter/captain in Southern California
From JIM PEARSON, Captain Technical Rescue Coordinator Training and Safety Officer San Bernardino County Fire Department
Thank you both for an excellent course on rope rescue held at Rancho Cucamonga FD I learned a great deal in the course. The curriculum and excellent delivery by RTR staff was first class. Your scientific and systematic approach to rope rescue was refreshing and obviously well thought out. I do hope you will be returning to this area soon so I will have an opportunity to take the advanced section. Thank you both again for a meaningful training experience. Sincerely,
TESTIMONIAL #3 From Vermont Electric Transmission Company
From EDWIN T. CONGDON, Manager of Support Services Vermont Electric Transmission Company
VERMONT ELECTRIC POWER MEETS CHALLENGES OF ROPE ACCESS AND RESCUE IN REMOTE MOUNTAINOUS TERRAIN
"Belay is ON!"
Sound like a competent mountain climbing team in the Alps?
No, rather Vermont Electric Power Co. Inc electrical maintenance and line crew personnel training in tower rescue techniques under the expert tutelage of Reed Thorne, vice president of Ropes That Rescue Limited (RTR) of Sedona, Arizona. The Vermont Electric Power Co. also known as VELCO, is a privately owned bulk transmission company with facilities ranging from 115kv AC on wooden structures up to 450kv DC on steel monotube structures as well as 30 substations with lattice tower construction.
From the beginning, Mr. Thorne emphasized that the rope training was not just for rescue of ill or injured workers, but more so for work access and safety. In order for a rope rescue on a remote power line to be executed safely, training and practice must be a part of the work crews regular work day. Life safety ropes and equipment should be used weekly, or even dailyÃ‘not every six months to a year when mandatory rescue training comes around. RTRÃ•s philosophy is simple: If linemen will carry and actually USE the equipment because it is small and lightweight, then they will practice regularly with it. Also, if it is up on the tower, isnÃ•t it easier to protect workers from fall-related injury during their work?
With tall towers and rough terrain limiting bucket truck access, most maintenance work is performed by hand-over-hand climbing. Like most utilities in the US, structures are lacking extant fall protection for the first person up the tower. In perilous weather or crushing ice storms like the one that visited the NE last year, climbing steel can be very perilous. Two different climbing fall protection techniques were practiced by VELCO employees with an emphasis on simplicity and understanding. Either technique could be used by VELCO to allow the most flexibility for line workers to protect themselves from a fatal fall.
Even minor injuries or illness at the top of a remote VELCO structure could present major rescue problems. Since little climbing rescue expertise is available in the nearby civilian community, most crews would be required to depend on their own assets. Indeed this is a problem for many utilities in the US: You cannot wait for rescue from a jurisdiction in which the power line passes. This was the premise in mind when VELCO contracted with RTR to provide rescue training that was safe, simple and effective.
Variations in rigging allow workers to lower themselves (self-rescue) or to lower others either by top down or bottom up assisted rescues. The difference is basically whether the rescue is structure-based or ground-based. Again flexibility is the key. The three day course started by laying the groundwork by discussing such things as how to safely climb a tower without built in fall protection in place, familiarization with the hazards associated with rescue from transmission towers, and distinctions between utility ropes and equipment and that of life safety ropes and equipment, how to engage in self rescue from elevation and how to lower individuals from elevation in a safe and efficient manner.
Knotcraft and patient stabilization for linemen was reviewed and the class quickly moved outside to the training tower --- the top half of a 450kv DC monotube structure. Tower training started with controlled descent, a fun and confidence building technique commonly used by some US utilities. A second fall arrest line was used on all exercises throughout the seminar. Confidence and ability progressed rapidly to the point that the second day crew members were installing spine stabilization back boards to another crew member hanging in mid air from his fall arrest equipment.
Even personnel who had approached the training with some hesitation came away with a new confidence in their ability to extricate themselves or other injured crew members from a tower. Not only this, but they came away knowing that rope work is fun, safe, fast and extremely cost effective for their employer. (Underline added for emphasis)
Ropes That Rescue presented a methodical, well thought out program that be an asset to anyone whose personnel work at elevation. Mr. Thorne understands power transmission and regularly teaches fire and EMS agencies awareness-level rescue training on power line rescue. He worked with the History Channel on a film production on the worldÃ•s most dangerous professions featuring electrical transmission linemen.
See photo of this VELCO training. Click HERE
TESTIMONIAL #4 From Fire & Rescue AUSTRALIA
From LEN BATLEY, Fire and Rescue Australia, Adelaide, South Australia
(Writing to a New Zealand Fire Station Officer---)
Thanks for your email, I will try to help as much as possible, this course is still in its initial stage at present. The Team Skills Rescue Workshop is designed as a workshop for instructors. It is not for beginners but for people who are already teaching rope rescue. It teaches the instructors the knowledge and skills of why we teach this way not just "this is the way we do it". It destroys some common beliefs with actual data and test proof and then creates alternatives for you to adapt for your service. It is not to teach you to do it our way but to guide you in the best system for your organization. The course teaches you how to rig your rescue system without the expensive gadgets but with knowledge and understanding of simple physics and basic principles.
To give you some idea, I was accredited as an instructor with the SA Metro Fire Service, Tasmanian Fire Service and the New South Wales Fire Brigade as a rope rescue instructor, as well as the local volunteer fire brigade and State Emergency Service at instructor level. In 1998 I traveled overseas on a Churchill Fellowship and studied rescue techniques in North America, Sweden, United Kingdom and Singapore. The most I have ever learnt as to why we do some things and improvement options to work safer and more efficient was from the ROPES THAT RESCUE course. It is the best instructors course out there. (In my opinion).
We now have the New South Wales Fire Brigade ending their instructors across to the course. They have recently gone back and done their own testing (which is what we always say "prove it for yourself") and on their return have changed their systems to a safer method of work. Most major fire services from Australia have sent some their instructors and Singapore have also sent three of their elite DART team members across.
There are a maximum of sixteen positions available on this course and the first in have the first positions. If you require any testimonials I can send you some info of past attendees and they can let you know honestly what they thought of the course, not just what I say. If you require I can also send you a copy of the course syllabus and registration form. I hope this helps, and if you have any further questions please let me know. It would be great to have a New Zealander across.
Len Batley Fire & Rescue Australia