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  1. #1
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    Default Belay line and Haul line on same attachment point?

    I am a certified Rescue Tech 1, threw the department of defense. I have not been in the class in about 4years, although I do participate in a lot of high angle rescue situations with a local search and rescue team.

    My question stems from this. Four members of my department attended the Alabama fire college to be certified to instruct confined space rescue. Long story short we were out training and set the tripod over the hole. (We have a trainer we used). When the rescuer was placed on the 4to1 B/T and the Belay line was hooked up before the "Rescuer" entered the whole. They attached the belay line to the same attachment point on his harness as his load line.

    This sent up red flags all over my head and I asked " Why are you hooking up his belay line to the same point as his haul line?" I got the typical firehouse answer from the instructor. Because that’s how I was taught at AFC. I said to myself, “well I was always taught that rope rescue systems are always safety redundant, and that you have 2 systems (Haul, and Belay) that are totally independent from each other so that if one system fails and any point, the second system is intact.”

    I used common sense and the education that I had received to explain why you would not want to hook your belay line to the same attachment point as the haul line, because if that attachment point fails, then you now have no belay line, and no haul line and you fall to the ground below.

    My instructor failed to accept common sense and just kept repeating “That’s how they taught it at AFC”

    I guess I am calling all the RESCUE RATS out there to help me with my defense. I guess my fellow firefighter who was teaching this class got a little “Butt Hurt” when I called safety on attaching the belay line and the haul line to the same attachment point, and ran his mouth to my Captain, who then decided to get an attitude with me, over having a legit safety concern, and voicing it.

    If anyone could lead me in the right direction to the standard that says two independent attachment points, two independent systems, and two independent anchor systems, I would appreciate it.


  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by VincentEng2 View Post
    I am a certified Rescue Tech 1, threw the department of defense. I have not been in the class in about 4years, although I do participate in a lot of high angle rescue situations with a local search and rescue team.

    My question stems from this. Four members of my department attended the Alabama fire college to be certified to instruct confined space rescue. Long story short we were out training and set the tripod over the hole. (We have a trainer we used). When the rescuer was placed on the 4to1 B/T and the Belay line was hooked up before the "Rescuer" entered the whole. They attached the belay line to the same attachment point on his harness as his load line.

    This sent up red flags all over my head and I asked " Why are you hooking up his belay line to the same point as his haul line?" I got the typical firehouse answer from the instructor. Because that’s how I was taught at AFC. I said to myself, “well I was always taught that rope rescue systems are always safety redundant, and that you have 2 systems (Haul, and Belay) that are totally independent from each other so that if one system fails and any point, the second system is intact.”

    I used common sense and the education that I had received to explain why you would not want to hook your belay line to the same attachment point as the haul line, because if that attachment point fails, then you now have no belay line, and no haul line and you fall to the ground below.

    My instructor failed to accept common sense and just kept repeating “That’s how they taught it at AFC”

    I guess I am calling all the RESCUE RATS out there to help me with my defense. I guess my fellow firefighter who was teaching this class got a little “Butt Hurt” when I called safety on attaching the belay line and the haul line to the same attachment point, and ran his mouth to my Captain, who then decided to get an attitude with me, over having a legit safety concern, and voicing it.

    If anyone could lead me in the right direction to the standard that says two independent attachment points, two independent systems, and two independent anchor systems, I would appreciate it.
    I went through confined space/trench/rope rescue a few years ago as well as being a former climbing instructor and caver where I would repel and ascend into/out of the caves. And I always was taught and taught to people I was teaching to climb etc to use redundancy and if you are going to have multiple safety lines to attach them to different points on the harness because like you said that prevents losing one = losing all

  3. #3
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    Thats how I feel and how I was taught I was just wondering if any one knew where it was writen black and white?

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    I would not be so worried about loosing the attachment point, hell the darn things are rated at 40-some kilonewtons. If you are just working in the high angle enviorment, attach both lines to it. If you are still concerned, hook the belay line into the front with a butterfly knot, then terminate it on the dorsal attachment. This will keep you from being hung by the back if the main line gives out, because face it, main line gives and you are hanging from the dorsal attachment, how are you going to assend that?

    BUT... in confined space, the safety tag line (or second line) should be hooked to the dorsal attachment. This way if you go down inside a confined space, they can "drag" you by the tag line attahced to your back. If this line is attached to the waist attachment you will rag-doll over and get hung up on all kinds of stuff when they try to drag you back to the hole.
    ~Drew
    Firefighter/EMT/Technical Rescue
    USAR TF Rescue Specialist

  5. #5
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    Vincent,

    What you'd do in an actual rescue, you'd decide then on the fly, and make the most appropriate decision based on the circumstances. But you're talking about training. In training, the most appropriate decision to make to keep everyone on your team safe as possible is to use a 2-point philosophy, which means not including a critical point in your rescue system. And that it simply doing good business. Assuming your team is using class 3 harnesses, you've got 3 areas to attach to- belly, chest, & back. Most people prefer the belly as the attachment point for the main. If you want, for whatever reason, to also have the belay attached at the belly, simply add another link to the webbing at that point just below the manufacturer supplied ring, such as the Petzl Demi-Rond. The brand of harness you use and its design specifics may or may not allow for this.

  6. #6
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    Cool My Memory.....

    If my memory serves me right, the belay and load line should be attached to two separate points on the harness and have independent anchor systems. I would check with Rescue 3 International, CMC Rescue Manual (I think that's one of the manufacturers that puts out a thorough manual) and call AFC and talk to their Instructors directly. I wouldn't seem like your attacking their teaching but I'd use getting updated information and such as my excuse.

    I hope this helps.....
    "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.....

  7. #7
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    I prefer two separate attachment points. You should also consult the manual for the harnesses you are utilizing to see where the acceptable belay and attachment points are. Not all attachment points can be utilized for belay purposes. Do your harnesses have sternal rings?

    A great article on attachment points for frontal belay lines is from Fire Rescue Mag October 2006. Here is the link:
    http://www.firerescue1.com/data/PDFs...DisFRM1006.pdf

  8. #8
    Forum Member FiremanLyman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AFD020 View Post
    I prefer two separate attachment points. You should also consult the manual for the harnesses you are utilizing to see where the acceptable belay and attachment points are. Not all attachment points can be utilized for belay purposes. Do your harnesses have sternal rings?

    A great article on attachment points for frontal belay lines is from Fire Rescue Mag October 2006. Here is the link:
    http://www.firerescue1.com/data/PDFs...DisFRM1006.pdf
    That article is a GREAT read. Forwarding it to the team right now.

    Find it interesting that the tests on a slacked belay system show a fall that produces 12-15KN... enough to kill you!

    We have moved to using two tension line systems for lowers in high angle with a piggyback 4:1 on the "main line" for raising. This system works well, as the load is distributed between the two lines, and if one line "goes away" then the other just transfers all the weight with little to no shock load.

    But the OP was talking about confined space, I prefer to lower on a 4:1 if you have the reach (rope lenght).
    ~Drew
    Firefighter/EMT/Technical Rescue
    USAR TF Rescue Specialist

  9. #9
    Moderator ProgressiveRescue's Avatar
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    Your thoughts were right on point. You never...never...never attach your belay line to the same attachment point as your haul (raise) or lowering line. By doing that you totally defeat the purpose of a belay and the concept of a safety redundant system, Your raise or lowering line should always get attached to the front of the harness and the belay will always be attached to the back or "dorsal" attachment point. Further more the belay and mail lines should be attached to separate bombproof anchors to ensure if you in fact do have a failure of either the main line or belay line your rescuer and or victim will be safe. I have a video on my website (www.progressiverescue.com) that may shed some light on this subject for them... or they may think I'm nuts. Bottom line is you we're 100% correct and you did the right thing pointing it out.
    Stay Safe...Stay Progressive
    Mike Donahue
    Progressive Rescue

  10. #10
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    I agree that we should attempt, in training, to run two entirely seperate and redundant systems. This would entail incorporating two seperate attachments to your harness. In fact, I agree enough that this is the way I train with my department or my team. I must agree with Eric though, that this does not always happen in a real world environment. Keep in mind that the belay system is put in place in case of mainline failure. Mainline failure is the result of one of two events: equipment failure or human error. A belay line attached to the same attachment as the mainline would provide redundancy in case of equipment failure, all the way up to the point of attachment. Still a pretty good safety margin if you ask me. But knowing that the majority of mainline failures are a result of human error, you are still providing a safe back up system to contend with this. I dont think there is a great chance of the attachment ring on a harness breaking. If you are concerned with this, there are other ways to combat that. Again, a Delta or Demi Rond would provide protection against this. One thing that comes to mind though, is that the waist attachment is not the best place to take the forces of a dynamic belay event.

    Also, speaking out of my personal preference, there are few situations that I would attach a belay to the dorsal attachment. I prefer the chest attachment for several reasons. Obviously, less of a violent arrest on the body (considering our "working" position in a high angle environment). Also, if Im managing my own belay, such as rope access work, I'm more able to self rescue from a chest attachment. But again, my personal opinion. I'd check with some of the bigger schools, such as Ropes That Rescue, etc. From recent personal attendance, this is what they are still teaching.

    To sum it up, train with two seperate attachments, and strive to do this in a real world environment. Great training point on recognizing a "critical point." However, its not a "no go" for me if they end up at the same attachment. Be Safe!

  11. #11
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    I agree with you Squad that the sternal can be the better choice for the belay point, as opposed to the dorsal. I have to disagree with Mr. Donahue's "always" statement about connecting the belay to the dorsal. I tend to shy away from words like "always" or "never". As Squad pointed out well, for someone working at height via rope access, connecting the self belay to the dorsal is no good. I work on rope typically 4 days out of 7 and will attest to that.

    Consider a less than vertical surface- steep angle- would you want your belay attached to your dorsal? The rope would compress your face into to the rock/dirt/whatever the surface is.

    I'm not so sure I agree with Squad about the waist/belly/umbilicus (whatever term one uses) attachment for belay as being all that bad. For someone in reasonable shape, it's not that big of a deal. For an obese person with with weak abs, yeah, maybe better go with the sternal. Personally, I like using a Demi Rond link just below the belly ring. As a rock climber, I'm use to taking falls while wearing a class 2 harness- standard attire in the climbing world. Climbers worldwide take sizable falls daily whilst tied in at the waist. In short, I'd say that where you attach the belay depends on who you are, what shape are you in, and what are you doing? Worker? Rescuer? Patient? Recreational climber? It all depends...

    As for Ropes That Rescue, yes, we teach connecting the belay at the sternal as class-3 harnesses are standard attire for rescue.

    Good discussion...

  12. #12
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    Default Belay Attachment

    The original question pertaining to the belay attachment point was in a confined space application right? If your rigging for a high-angle operation by all means place your belay lines where you wish a high angle rescue is a different monster when compared to a confined space rescue. There is a host of different concerns.I feel the need to ask this question... isn't the point of a belay/system to be the independent line that catches you in the event of a main-line or equipment failure. You wouldn't connect your belay/system to the same anchor strap your main-line is attached to would you? ....certainly not. So by connecting both the belay and main-line to the same attachment point on the harness defeating that principal. Sure all the equipment we use is rated for at least 40 KN but we we always must plan for the worst and the what ifs.
    We all know there are dozens of different methods to do things however personally I'm not a big fan of putting your belay and main-line on the same attachment point. We're in the rescue business and should play the way we train. Do we or will we take calculated risks from time to time? sure it's in the nature of our jobs, however it's also part of our jobs to train and perform these operations in the safest possible manner.
    The original question posted by vincent was pertaining to a confined space operation. In a CSO you always attach the belay to the dorsal attachment point. Why? If the victim and or rescuer becomes unconscious and and there was a main line failure, had the belay been attached to their waist or belly their going to hinge backward...we're all top heavy (some more than others).This in turn will make it very difficult to retrieve them from the CS. If the belay is attached to the dorsal point they will hang in a vertical position allowing us to haul them from the CS with ease.
    Let me throw this question out there....Where would you connect the main line to a unconscious window washer trapped outside the 30th floor of a 40 floor building? What would your rescue plan be?
    Stay Safe...Stay Progressive
    Mike Donahue
    Progressive Rescue

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    Eric, I have to say I agree with you 100%. I myself try to avoid "never" or "always", especially with such a complex world as rope rescue. There are way too many aspects of the "vertical world" for any absolutes. The only absolutes are the physics involved with rope work!

    With that, I said the waist is not the most desirable, and maybe should have stated that was only my opinion. I too have performed lead climbs where the belay was attached at the waist attachment. That was also with a dynamic rope. And I agree, body types & experience levels also are a factor. Also, in an access type environment, we are often able to manage our own belay, thus limiting the fall factor. I still think in a rescue environment where the belay is managed by someone else, I personally would prefer a chest attachment, and would be teaching this to newer folks in the rescue business. Again, if it wasn't available, no sweat off my back if it's attached at the waist.

    Progressive, I do agree we got a bit off topic. But hey, it's made a darn good discussion! And I agree that in a CS operation, a dorsal attachment is fine, providing that you are being lowered vertically into an area that a dynamic adjustment from a dorsal catch will not provide severe c-spine injuries. And yes, that was the original post, a vertical lower in a CS. However, I would not say "always" a dorsal attachment. We all know that in a real world environment, many CS configurations render a non-entry rescue out of the question. A vertical turn here, a horizontal there.....you know what Im talking about. But then, we typically dump the tag line/belay line. Also, we keep in mind that a belay line and a tag line are not always the same, though they can be. If for some reason a belay line attachment would not facilitate the most desirable retrieval, we throw another tagline into operation (a 9mm technora sheathed rope).

    Anyway, just a few more thoughts.

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    Yes Squad, for rescue, the sternal is typically preferable. Agree with you there.

    Mr. Donahue, the original post was referring to confined space, but the way I read your initial response sounded to me like you were making more or less a blanket statement about the belay point in general.

    There is a lot of dogma out there in the world of rescue. I see it quite a bit in these forums. Often it is born out of knowing how to do something relative to rescue, but not why. "That's the way I learned" seems like an oft heard reason.

    Anyway, I'll agree with Squad on this one relative to confined space rescue and not say "always".

    Cheers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EricUlner View Post
    ....[snip]

    There is a lot of dogma out there in the world of rescue. I see it quite a bit in these forums. Often it is born out of knowing how to do something relative to rescue, but not why. "That's the way I learned" seems like an oft heard reason.

    Anyway, I'll agree with Squad on this one relative to confined space rescue and not say "always".

    Cheers.
    Amen. There are many that possess a basic understanding of technical rescue disciplines derived from rote trainings where very few people ever learn the "why" aspect.

    Having a "preferred" method is always good and makes an awful lot of sense. Being able to recognize and act accordingly in a situation where the preferred method may not be the best option is key.

    Back to another part of the OP -

    Competent instructors should be able to answer appropriate "why" questions. (Students asking inappropriate/disruptive questions is a different topic). Being able to intelligently discuss the pros/cons (including when you might use various options, risks, etc.) of any given approach is what sets apart those who really know what they are talking about (and are effective instructors) vs. those regurgitating info. about something they really don't understand. Critical thinking skills are often pretty thin out there...

    Vincent - No offense is meant by any of this, but since you indicated in your post that you were taking the course as prep to be an instructor within your dept., I would encourage you to avoid falling into the same old pattern you mention. Ask yourself, "why" and learn the answers. Consider taking classes outside your local area - Rigging for Rescue and Ropes that Rescue are worth considering and may be VERY eye-opening. Attend a SPRAT or IRATA course or a conference like ITRS (International Technical Rescue Symposium).

    Some of these may be overkill for something your agency encounters once every 5 years, but if you really want to get into the weeds - go for it!

    Also on the OP - All things being equal - I would prefer a separate attachment.

  16. #16
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    Default Belay Attachment

    In retrospect it did seem like a blanket statement and that wasn't what my intentions were. However it did seen to spark some great replies. We all know the world of rope rescue is a dynamic place and no one method works every time. In retrospect again thats how I sounded. Pertaining to your original post my personal preferred method is the dorsal attachment which can be utilized for both vertical and horizontal. However with a horizontal application I've found that two connection points for the belay ( the dorsal and the lower back) combined together works nicely if you have to retrieve (haul) someone out. The two attachment points seem to prevent the victim and or rescuer from being pulled upwards. A butterfly knot works nicely for the lower back attachment point.
    There will always be rigging challenges...we're all aware of that but I think the strongest point to make would be to always attempt to utilize separate attachment points for the mainline and belay. A good rope guy always knows multiple ways of doing things and shame on me for "knot" coming across in that manner.
    Stay Safe, Stay Progressive
    Mike Donahue

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    All good then and no "shame" on anyone.

    As for the question posed about the window washer in suspension, I'll have to say that there'd be too many variables to say such and such an answer. What's below, what's above, etc.

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    Hello all,
    Excellent disccusion on a subject matter that comes up allot during the structural training we carry out, we always go over the rescue of a worker in fall arrest and the subject of "well I only have a D-ring on my back, not my front so you can't seperate the Main and belay in the real world".

    This is true and we train a couple of ways to answer this problem.

    Our first response to this scenario is to use a reach pole (why send someone over if you dont have to?) that has both Main and Belay connected to it, reach down and clip these to the patients dorsal D-ring, de-weight their system and lower them to the ground (best case scenario on having egress on the ground).

    Secondly, if we need to then a Pick Off scenario on the patient can be carried out, we will end up packaging them in a Rescue triangle such as the Petzl Pitagor, this gives us the option to maintain our two points as we do in training.

    Is it perfect (is anything in Rope Rescue perfect to absolutely everyone?), it works and it gives us two good options (tools) to utilize as required on the day.
    Whats the bigger tool - a Dump Truck or the Rope Rescue Instructor that say's "This is how I've been doing it for 20 years....thats why"...........

  19. #19
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    For standard pick offs, in the absence of two independent D-rings on the front of the harness, could one girth hitch a sling around the waist belt of the harness and clip the belay into that?

    Does this count as using the harness in a manner that it was not intended for?

  20. #20
    Moderator ProgressiveRescue's Avatar
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    Arrow

    If I was presented with a harness that had only one front D ring and no rear attachment point I think I would connect the belay directly onto the waist belt via a beaner before I would use a girth hitch. Maybe even perhaps throw a hasty harness on the victim and utilize that as a secondary harness and belay attachment point. Is that overkill.....probably but I was never one to shy away from a bigger safety margin.
    Will your idea work?....sure will. The great thing about these forums is you'll learn 100 different ways to accomplish the same task, in turn making you a better rescuer.
    Thanks,
    Mike donahue
    "Training Prepares You...For Moments That Define You

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