Mechanical Advantage Systems - Part 1

In the world of rope rescue, we use mechanical advantage systems really for two reasons. The first being a force increasing tool and the second, a means of reducing the weight of a load during a lowering operation. Mechanical advantage...

Mechanical advantage systems can have many applications in your rescue operations. You don't always need pulleys and carabiners to create them either. A simple example would be the lowering of a stokes basket down a set of narrow or steep stairs. Find yourself an anchor. That anchor can even be your partner. Run the rope down and through the head of the stokes and back up to you. You've just created a simple 2:1 mechanical advantage that can aid you in either lowering or raising the patient in the stairwell.

In Closing

Mechanical advantage systems allow us to move heavy loads with relative ease and control. All you need is the training to bring it all together. Next month we will cover how to calculate the mechanical advantage by simply looking at the system. We'll also cover anchor and belay systems and the rolls they play in a mechanical advantage system.

Until then stay safe and stay progressive.

MICHAEL R. DONAHUE is a 13-year veteran of the fire service is assigned to Rescue Company 1 in Elizabeth, NJ. Mike is the owner and founder of Progressive Rescue, a company dedicated to further firefighter's in all aspect of the job. He holds the title of rescue specialist with New Jersey's Urban Search and Rescue Team (NJ-TF1) and he is actively teaching at Middlesex and Somerset fire academies and the Middlesex County College as their Fire Science Program Coordinator. Michael has been guest on two podcasts: The Buzz on Technical Rescue: Special Operations Roundtable and The Buzz on Technical Rescue: Rope Rescue Operations. View all of Michael's artices and podcasts here. You can reach Michael by e-mail at