Fear of Change Hampers Our Ability To Progress in Technical Rescue

Having taught for some time, you realize fear of change is linked to the fear or feeling of not being able to perform that skill or method. You get so accustomed to performing the same skill set almost on auto pilot that the thought of losing that feeling...

In my experience, out of all of the rescue disciplines we perform, rope rescue seems to have the widest spectrum for experimentation and developing new techniques. It’s also one of the areas I ?nd I get the most resistance in, whether it is during training or in the ?eld. Because of that, I wanted to share some pictures of techniques that have caused me static. Clearly these are not major things; however, the resistance can sometimes be amazing.


Using New Tools

In the fire photo (see Photo 1), you will see the very popular belay device called the 540 Rescue Belay. The 540 is an outstanding device and very user friendly, in my opinion. The only down side to it is should there be a belay catch and the need arise, you cannot lower the rescuer or victim. I’ve come across people who are misinformed, thinking that the lever on the back side of the device can be used for lowering. It is only used to offload the belay should there be a belay catch. If, for example, the belay line was lagging behind the lowering line during decent, thus causing the 540 to lock up. How did I honestly learn this? Through mistakes I made myself when I was ?rst introduced to the 540.

In my opinion, Photo 2 represents a good example of the advancement in equipment technology. This is the CMC MPD (Multi Purpose Device). Like the 540, it is a belay device; however, it can also act as a lowering device and is quickly converted into a raising system. Photo 3 is a 5:1 MAS (mechanical advantage system). You can also initially create a 3:1 MAS. Pretty cool, right?

With the clear advantages of using the MPD, I still encountered a lot of resistance, mainly because it was new to people. After playing with it for a while, most saw the light, but some resisted it and didn’t want the change. The second example I have is something as simple as setting a directional pulley. Something I’ve seen a lot when setting a directional is one guy moving and holding the pulley in place while someone else is at the anchor ready to tie off when they get the nod.

Photos 4 and 5 show two ways that a single rescuer can set the directional from the anchor point. In Photo 4, you initially tie off at your anchor point then run the rope through the carabiner (a pulley can be attached to that carabiner creating a more desirable bend in the rope) on the directional pulley and walk back towards your anchor with the rope. While walking back to the anchor, you are not pulling the rope; you’re letting it run freely through your hands. Once back at the anchor, you will do two simple things: first, communicate with the rescuer stationed at the targeted decent area; then pull on the running end of the rope (in Photo 4 it would be on the left) moving the pulley towards you until the rescuer says, “Stop.” At that point, just tie your knot and connect to your anchor. In Photo 5 you’ll see the same operation using a MAS. You hook one end to the directional and the other to your anchor. Communicate and haul until directional is set in place.

The third and last idea that I want to show you is two rigging plates, side by side in Photo 6. The one on the right is a normal rigging plate made by Petzl. It has large, ample rigging points and it’s been around for some time. The one on the left is a UFO, which stands for Universal Focusing Object. It’s made by Rock Exotica. It’s also a rigging plate, or, actually, a rigging cube. The UFO provides you with a 360-degree window to rig in, whereas you’re limited with a standard rigging plate. Everyone who sees this for the ?rst time says the same thing, “What the h!@$ is that?” It’s so new and different that people think its cool, but because it’s really uncharted water, they shy away from using it.

Those were just a few examples from one discipline that I have encountered. Like I said in the beginning of this article, to each his own and everyone’s entitled to their own opinions and ways of doing things. However, for those who shy away from swimming in those uncharted waters, keep in mind that the gear you’re comfortable with and so accustomed to using was created by someone doing a cannonball into those very same uncharted waters.

Please share your thoughts below, not only for me but for everyone else who was thankfully entertained enough to make it to this point in the article. I leave you this month with these words... Don’t fear progression…create it!

Stay safe, stay progressive.