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    Arrow Tower Rescue Operations

    I thought this would be a great topic to throw out there and grab a lot of great ideas and responses.
    Are you on a rescue team or department that performs tower rescues? If so what is your game plan? What kind of system does your lead climber implement? What are your successes and failures. Let's hear it all, honesty breeds good training.

    Mike Donahue
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    Hey Mike,
    Thanks for the topic - I guess I'll go first.

    I've found that using the word "tower" seems to induces panic within the training dept. I've been advised by another FD in our area that they've had better reception from their training dept. by using the term "elevated platform." Whatever works, I guess. The typical response in my area is "we will call somebody else." But I've yet to figure out who that "somebody else" is. My guess is that when you're looking up a cell tower at a worker hanging by his fall restraint and the cameras are rolling, that "somebody else" may be the guy standing next to you.

    We've been able to conduct some good tower rescue training in our response district. We've used both monopole and open lattice towers. We've used a 30' monopole at our city's airport. The monopole housed a landing light on its top and has a 3/8" cable with foot pegs. This was a great training prop for a cell tower simulation. We were able to use our cable grabs and work positioning straps for fall restraint. We usually have a two person climb team for cell towers. The first climber usually has a belay setup and takes up the mainline. The mainline rope bag stays on the ground so the first up just needs a pulley threaded with a figure eight attached to his harness. The second climber ascends with related rescue/EMS equipment if required (LSP, etc). The first climber lowers the mainline and belay connections down to the victim and the second climber clips them into the system. We use a ground based lower, so once the mainline is rigged into the top pulley the ground team can rig for lower. We just vector the mainline to free the victim from the fall arrest lanyard. This type of rescue can become more challenging if the victim is located on the top platform.

    We've also been using a 70' lattice light tower at a local HS football stadium. This has been a good prop to practice using cable grabs, work positioning, bypass lanyard and Azzards. The Azzards were a hard sell due to the sport climbing equipment required to run them. But, they're a great tool to have in the bag when you don't have a fall protection system in place on the tower.

    Our basic set up is: Yates Tower harness with croll, AZTEC kit, Petzl Grillon, Petzl I'D or micro rack, and related hardware. I'll include a few pics of the above locations (in the monopole pic, we were picking off a weighted rope bag hanging from a lanyard - so there's an extra rope bag up there). Stay Safe.
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    Last edited by bottrigg; 08-30-2010 at 01:07 AM.

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    Thumbs up Great Posting

    Great posting Bottrigg..loved the pics. Your department is fortunate to be able to train on actual towers. It seems these days that insurance and fears of lawsuits hamper training in some really desirable locations.
    Your operation seems simple and streamlined and as we all know that's the name of the game.
    What type of belay system do you implement?....we often use the 540 Rescue Belay. Tandem prusicks are stilled used however the 540 is gaining popularity.
    Have you ever tried using the Petzl ID as a belay device?
    Stay Progressive,
    Mike Donahue



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    Cool How we Rescue

    If we can't catch them with the Aerial Ladder, we'll pluck them off using an Army Air Rescue. May seem like we're "cheating" but we have the resource and they're more than willing to use them.....
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    We are fortunate enough to train on towers that go as high as 300 feet. We have an antenna farm that has all sorts of jungle gyms to play on. Each climber uses a dual lanyard system that loops over the pegs as they climb. The lead guy sets up the escape line. Tandem prussiks are all we use. The 540 is junk once it gets any dirt or wet rope near it. The I'd is a nice piece of gear, but prussiks are cheap and work great. The second guy will take up the belay system. The third guy will bring the haul rope, can be rigged from high or bottom depending on the height. We like the SMC lite steel carabiners for weight savings and are switching completely to them for all systems. All of our gear bags have padded should straps for comfort. We are fortunate enough to have plenty of willing monkeys on our team that are more than happy to climb all over these things.
    Jason Brooks
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    Quote Originally Posted by ProgressiveRescue Specialized Rescue Forum Moderator View Post
    Great posting Bottrigg..loved the pics. Your department is fortunate to be able to train on actual towers. It seems these days that insurance and fears of lawsuits hamper training in some really desirable locations.
    Your operation seems simple and streamlined and as we all know that's the name of the game.
    What type of belay system do you implement?....we often use the 540 Rescue Belay. Tandem prusicks are stilled used however the 540 is gaining popularity.
    Have you ever tried using the Petzl ID as a belay device?
    Stay Progressive,
    Mike Donahue


    Mike,
    I have no problem with the 540 up on a tower. It's a great tool if the load is directly under the device. I would say that we use the TPB most of the time. Currently, we only have the NFPA L, I'Ds so we have chosen not to belay with them. The new buzz seems to be the MPD. I've not used them yet, but Rescue Response has some great video of them in action. I like the mirrored system approach and the fact that they are a bearing pulley (unlike the I'D). Anything that removes LRH and changeovers is a plus in my book. The only augment I can't win with these new devices is the cost issue. The manufacture demonstrates the cost savings of the MPD in comparison to each individual component it replaces. But, when you already have all of these components, it's a hard sell to the chief. Also, I'm not sure you can use the MPD as a traveling brake, so that would be a change from the I'D.

    I share Jbrescue's opinion of the 540 if the rope is wet or muddy. Also, sheath fuzz can become a friction issue. I've found that 7/16 is no prob (with the green 540), but 1/2" sucks most of the time (in the blue 540). I see most of our guys fighting the 540 when it's rigged in a horizontal plane. The friction caused by the rope sag creates issues. As with any belay rig, the 540 requires lots of practice and refinement of technique. Also, I don't see too many people using the extra friction carabiner required during lowering belays while using the 540 (as per the instructions). Personally, I'm just as happy with the TPB if I'm on a tower or on top of a building.

    Jbrescue may recognize the set-up in this pic. It was invented by an guy from Ohio. He solved the issue of lead climbing with step bolts.
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    Default just a thought

    Referring to the first photograph in Bottrigg's first post: What will happen to the patient if the main line (the "skate block" line) fails? I have no tower rescue experience, but I would be more comfortable "belaying the deflection" from the tower to prevent the patient from swinging into the tower (or the ground) should the main line fail.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bottrigg View Post
    Jbrescue may recognize the set-up in this pic. It was invented by an guy from Ohio. He solved the issue of lead climbing with step bolts.
    Great picture, that is exactly what we use. I bet this came to you from Mr. Kovach himself.
    Jason Brooks
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    Have you had a chance to play with the new CMC G rated Aluminum beaners? very light...very nice.
    "Training Prepares You...For Moments That Define You

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    Quote Originally Posted by servantleader View Post
    Referring to the first photograph in Bottrigg's first post: What will happen to the patient if the main line (the "skate block" line) fails? I have no tower rescue experience, but I would be more comfortable "belaying the deflection" from the tower to prevent the patient from swinging into the tower (or the ground) should the main line fail.
    Good point. We will usually use a skate or ground tag line. The skate block will usually put you down about 15' foot off the base of the tower. It's effective for towers with aprons. I don't usually put the tag under MA. As you mention, with these two systems there will be pendulum back into the structure. You could run a third line as a tensioned track line to try and isolate the issue.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ProgressiveRescue Specialized Rescue Forum Moderator View Post
    Have you had a chance to play with the new CMC G rated Aluminum beaners? very light...very nice.
    We have some of the twist locks. Some of the guys seem to think the carabiners are overly complicated to open. You can open them one handed with no problem after a little practice. I would get the screw locks if I could do it over again. The only problem I've found is that they don't mesh with my Petzl gear very well. They are thicker than the steel carabiners. On the (NFPA-L) I'D when you close the side plate the latch doesn't close behind the carabiner without pressing it hard. Also, they don't fit in the top hole of my Petzl ascenders - which is a pain. I like all my gear to mate up so I tend to stick with SMC steel lites for tower operations.

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    Some good points and pics. I work for a mid-sized department west of Philly, I've been looking for a tower rescue class but they all seem to be located out west. Anyone know of any tower rescue classes in or around SE PA?

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    Jason/Bottrigg,
    would one of you explain the step bolt rig there?
    looks to be a marathon lanyard with an 8mm purcell on it that cinches on the step bolt?
    thanks a bunch guys,
    mike

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    Quote Originally Posted by stickboy42 View Post
    Jason/Bottrigg,
    would one of you explain the step bolt rig there?
    looks to be a marathon lanyard with an 8mm purcell on it that cinches on the step bolt?
    thanks a bunch guys,
    mike
    Mike, I'm not sure on the exact specs. The main lanyard was about 7 or 8 feet and had sewn ends. I believe it was in the 10-11mm range and I'm unsure if it was a static or dynamic rope. The lanyard ran through a small anchor plate that connected to your harness. This plate was similar in design to the Petzl Paw. It had several small holes and the lanyard ran through two of these which allowed for adjustment of both ends of the lanyard. At the end of each lanyard tail was a prusik. The prusik was used in place of a hard link for step bolts. The operation was the same as with a bypass lanyard. As you climbed you sort of draped the prusik over your ring and middle finger so when you grabbed the step bolt, the prusik would be on the bolt. Once you got the hang of placing the prusik on the bolts it was a very easy system. The idea behind the rig was to have fall protection for step bolts that don't have a cable way.

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    We just use a tri-link as the harness attachment point. There are two "legs" that are probably 3-4' long. They are 10mm rope. Each has a prussik on them. They can be used to climb the pegs as described. Or, they can be wrapped around the leg of the tower to tie off. We just put a stopper knot in the end of each leg of the rope. Simple and inexpensive.
    Jason Brooks
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    Any close up pics of this set up?

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    Hey Mike,
    We dont look at lead climbing as an option for our team to gain access on to structures such as Communication Towers, Cranes (I understand these have ladders but I'm talking external climbing of the Mast and Jib) or Bridges.
    For the application of climbing a structure such as what has been mentioned, we use a Rope Access technique which we find works very well and that is climbing with moveable anchors.

    Our harnesses are set up with the dynamic cowstails and attached to these we have 3/8th steel cables that we move one by one to ascend and maintain our 100% tie off to the structure.
    Of course there is the issue of the fall factor involved which all our guys are well aware of staying below the anchor point they have set (not always the case minid you) but I've fallen while climbing in aid and yes, it's not nice on the body but it's not hard enough to take me off the task at hand.

    This same system is used for horizontal movement and also positioning but we also make use of a positioning lanyard once we have accessed the area we are going to be working at.
    I have attached a couple of pictures to show the set ups use during training on a Tower Crane, it shows use for the access on the outside of the Mast and also the movement and positioning on the Jib.
    The first picture shows the Technican positioned (use of the positioning lanyard and Cowstail) on the outside of the Mast to run the topside Belay on the Skate Line.
    The second picture shows the Technician gaining access above the patient in fall arrest on the Jib where he will also run the Belay for the Pick Off being carried out in this scenario.

    When it comes to horizontal movement on the Jib we do not use the rigged cable that runs along the Jib for the following reasons;

    1: These cables are meant to be maintained regulary, this I find is not the case on many Cranes so to be safe, we just dont use them;
    2: Your limited to putting one team member on each section of cable, this slows the access time to the location you are needed at;
    3: If a team member was clipped to this cable and fell off the Jib, it makes for an added rescue scenario that we just dont need so by anchoring around the structural member of the jib the team member stays high at all times and can self rescue easily,
    4: Not all Cranes have these cables on them - so we can access any Crane with or without the cable.

    This same set up is used for Communication Towers and also Bridges, works very well and is extremly multi purpose.
    The cowstail on my right side is also connected to my hand ascender and foot loop (when needed) while the left cowstail is a spare for climbing / positioning or for securing hardware or gear 9same principles apply to Rescue as they do for Access when it comes to removing items from your harness while at height...they all have to be tied off somehow to prevent dropping them) and for some of the Access Rescues then it has a number of other uses also such as some counter balance techniques.
    The third when attached is mainly for Rope Access when used inconjunction with the Shunt but can also be used as mentioned above.

    Another benefit to this option is that I can send my team (normally 3 members) top side without having to wait on the lead climber to get into position and set the line for the next member to climb, helps in gaining access quickly to the patient.
    Its another tool in the tool box and one we find works well for our application.
    Great topic, look forward to more discussions on it.
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    Last edited by Always_learning; 09-29-2010 at 05:08 PM.

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    Default Outstanding

    Outstanding response....Tower rescue like any rescue discipline is dynamic and techniques will vary. You and your team are clearly squared away. Thanks for the post and great pics.
    Mike Donahue
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    Bottrig, I Like what I see there, to date my department has done nothing in the way of tower training, and other than work positioning harnesses, no dedicated equipment. This is something I am always griping about. That looks like a very simple inexpensive set up. I would imagine that you would want to use dynamic rope for the lanyard due to the lack of any other energy absorbers in the system. I have recently gotten hold of Reed Thorne's video and CD for tower rescue, I know it is definitley no substitute for professional training, but at least it is a step or two above thinking on the fly should that call come in. Luckily the only tower incident we have had so far has only been 35 feet of the deck, ( involved a drunk and a static shock) patient was hanging by waist band of pants around ankle. A simple diaper sling and 4:1 haul safe did the trick. I was hoping that call would help open some eyes, but when I have put in Thorne's or Kovach's class the county said "no", not enough money.
    Last edited by TRT24; 10-26-2010 at 01:54 PM.

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    Some thoughts on tower rescue from a tower owners perspective.

    1. It is GREAT to see departments training on towers. To be blunt, it is about time!

    2. If a department needs to train on an actual tower in their general area, and you don't know of one that will allow you, contact me and I will get you one that is available. Anywhere in the US. If I don't own one there, I know someone who does. (In most cases)

    3. Another great industry resource is comtrain. www.comtrainusa.com

    4. Tower crews are SUPPOSED to be rescue and self rescue trained. Some are, some are not, some have been trained but little practice, and some are durn good at it. It will be obvious in the first 30 seconds of getting with them. They can be a valuable resource. Just a note - most tower crews make firefighters look like saints.

    5. It is a great part time gig for firefighters that have been trained on towers. Light repair, antenna install, hardline replacement, etc.

    6. I have been trying for years now to get statewide wireless associations to help pay for training and equipment of Fire Department tower rescue teams. No avail.

    7. AM broadcast towers. Not all towers are "cell" towers. AM Broadcast towers are HOT - ie energized when they are broadcasting. You can not just walk up to them and climb, as your body will become charcol broiled. FM and TV towers that are high power can toast you from the inside out when you get near their antennas. Any rescue team should have RF monitors so they can see when the power is approaching harmful limits. http://www.lbagroup.com/technology/s...rf-monitor.php is an example, I have nothing to do with these people.

    8. Shutting off power does not work. The electronics can be powered by a backup generator, or battery backup in the shelter. Just switching off the AC mains does nothing. PREPLAN! Those battery strings can be BIG.

    9. Shelters are not always bolted down to those pads.

    10. TIE OR DIE. 100% tie off. Always be safe.

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    Great information. Do you know of any towers in Middlesex County NJ that can be trained on?
    Stay Safe,
    Mike Donahue
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    Right off the top of my head, the 150 footer belonging to the fire district in Somerset?

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    Do you have contacts there? I'm looking to run a class.
    Thanks,
    Mike
    "Training Prepares You...For Moments That Define You

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    Mike,

    Let me know when you get that Tower class off the ground. I'm definitely interested in making the trip.
    John D. Calamia, BS, NREMTP, FP-C
    Firefighter/Flight Paramedic
    Broomall, PA

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