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Thread: Equipment Purchasing Advice

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    Default Equipment Purchasing Advice

    Hello all,

    I will be purchasing a few items to equip an aerial with a very basic rope rescue complement. We have both space and budgetary limitations that I must contend with. I tried to do as much research as I could, but would like a little bit of advice from the experts.


    Edge Protection- Looking at SMC Rope Tracker, SMC FLEX, CMC Ultra Pro, or Deus Edge Pro. Will be purchasing two - any suggestions?


    Bags - Already have rope bags, looking to buy a hardware bag. Looking at either the Conterra Techsar or CMC Truck Cache. Leaning toward the Conterra, but I've never seen one in person.


    Aztek Kit- Every company seems to be assembling their own Aztek SOF kit. Looking at the Rock Exotica or the Deus, but completely open to suggestions. Are any better than others?


    Prusiks- How does everyone like the sewn prusiks from sterling, or should I just buy cord? Same price for either.


    Descenders- Already have two Petzl I'Ds (wanted MPDs, but can't spend 3+ times as much on them) Everyone who has trained with the I'Ds likes them and is competent in their use.

    I've only used the Conterra Scarab for roughly one hour during training, but loved it. I think it might be a good idea to have as a back-up to the I'Ds. How do those of you with more hands-on time feel about it?


    Harnesses- I personally own a Petzl Navaho Fast Class III that I purchased after being unable to wear my previous agency's CMC harnesses, but they seem to be the most expensive harnesses made. Any good alternatives? .


    Also, contemplating the tripod conversion kit for res-q-jacks. It is the only way that we will be able to get a tripod. Has anybody ever played with it?


    Lastly, can anyone recommend a good field guide to place with the equipment?


    Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. It is much appreciated.
    Last edited by Raf516; 10-02-2013 at 04:01 AM.

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    The Scarab is an excellent device - my team's preferred DCD.

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    Regular rope prusiks much more versitle.

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    The SMC Rope Tracker is a great device

    Any AZTEK that you are comfortable with, major difference is the bag they choose for carrying. Some have waistbelts some just velcro loops

    Sewn prusiks are awesome. Rated, never tied wrong and easy to inspect. We still keep tied prusiks around as well, but the sewn are awesome.

    Thats a great harness, the PMI Avatar and a variety of good Yates harnesses out there.

    Tom Pendley's Technical Rescue Field Guide - from desertrescue.com Covers everything, including aerial as a high point, other technical rescue disciplines and also has an iphone/ipad version in addition to the well constructed field guide


    Quote Originally Posted by Raf516 View Post
    Hello all,

    I will be purchasing a few items to equip an aerial with a very basic rope rescue complement. We have both space and budgetary limitations that I must contend with. I tried to do as much research as I could, but would like a little bit of advice from the experts.


    Edge Protection- Looking at SMC Rope Tracker, SMC FLEX, CMC Ultra Pro, or Deus Edge Pro. Will be purchasing two - any suggestions



    Aztek Kit- Every company seems to be assembling their own Aztek SOF kit. Looking at the Rock Exotica or the Deus, but completely open to suggestions. Are any better than other


    Prusiks- How does everyone like the sewn prusiks from sterling, or should I just buy cord? Same price for either.


    Descenders- Already have two Petzl I'Ds (wanted MPDs, but can't spend 3+ times as much on them) Everyone who has trained with the I'Ds likes them and is competent in their use.
    Great Choice, either would do a good job, but I prefer the I'Ds as well.

    I've only used the Conterra Scarab for roughly one hour during training, but loved it. I think it might be a good idea to have as a back-up to the I'Ds. How do those of you with more hands-on time feel about it?


    Harnesses- I personally own a Petzl Navaho Fast Class III that I purchased after being unable to wear my previous agency's CMC harnesses, but they seem to be the most expensive harnesses made. Any good alternatives? .v


    Also, contemplating the tripod conversion kit for res-q-jacks. It is the only way that we will be able to get a tripod. Has anybody ever played with it?


    Lastly, can anyone recommend a good field guide to place with the equipment?ch
    [B[/B]

    Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. It is much appreciated.
    Last edited by AFD696; 10-05-2013 at 07:52 AM.

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    I just got the Tom Pendley rescue app. Very nice, thanks for that tip

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    My question is what do you want to be able to do? If space and $ are a concern you can streamline things quite a bit.

    Our bags have 200' rope an anchor strap, 6 bar rack, large delta, LRH, PMP and tandem prusiks, ending in a termination knot.

    We carry 2 set ups, one is the main line and one a belay. With the addition of one pulley and a rope grab we can make a 3 to 1 Z rig.

    All the bags are set up the same and you have everything you need for the vast majority of scenarios you will run into.

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    Name:  scan0001.jpg
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    The pics are from the rope field operations guide available from the University of Illinois Fire Service Institute IFSI http://www.fsi.illinois.edu/ Give them a call and I'm sure they can get you one.

    Like I said this is pre rigged and set up in our bags, all we need to do is attach it to an anchor and we are ready to go.

    Hope it helps

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    Give a look at these folks. www.rescuetech1.com

    We have done some field tests on their harnesses and bags with very good results.

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    Can't stand the I'D, maybe its an acquired taste. Love the scarab! Most of our team just use 8 plates, but they are less versatile, and of course they're rope-twisters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ADSNWFLD View Post
    Attachment 23153Attachment 23154

    The pics are from the rope field operations guide available from the University of Illinois Fire Service Institute IFSI http://www.fsi.illinois.edu/ Give them a call and I'm sure they can get you one.

    Like I said this is pre rigged and set up in our bags, all we need to do is attach it to an anchor and we are ready to go.

    Hope it helps

    Using a pulley behind a tandem Prusik belay is really asking for trouble. It has been proven on more than one occasion to cause the load to hit the ground in main failure testing. In testing done by Ropes That Rescue in 2005, and further back around 1989 in testing done by Arnor Larson and Reed. Reed even warned of the findings at the 2007 ITRS. Yet, fire service from all over the place seems to ignore this. The only reason I can come up with for this is... dogma. Either, "that's the way we learned it", or "that's the way we've always done it". Seemingly unbendable dogma. And such dogma leads to an unwillingness to look outside one's own box to see these findings.

    Maybe you just need to be there and hear the package hit the ground with gusto. That was enough for me.

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    RTR isn't the only bunch that has tested this. Here's one you can watch.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDcsYDAvXko

    Dave

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    The same guys posted a clip of a tandem prusik belay the way we were taught to do 'em, with a pulley, but holding the bend in the rope and feeding it through the prusiks.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4yeJwGKMDc
    I'm not saying that its infallible, I really don't know the stats on it, but it was still in the CA SFM RS1 curriculum in 2012. CMC Rescue Tech I/II I think they rigged it w/o the pulley.
    I like that the pulley helps manage the rope... but I'd sure hate to lose a rescuer that way! At the risk of highjacking the thread, do you guys think the technique makes the difference or is it still a bad move?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BFD5408 View Post
    The same guys posted a clip of a tandem prusik belay the way we were taught to do 'em, with a pulley, but holding the bend in the rope and feeding it through the prusiks.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4yeJwGKMDc
    I'm not saying that its infallible, I really don't know the stats on it, but it was still in the CA SFM RS1 curriculum in 2012. CMC Rescue Tech I/II I think they rigged it w/o the pulley.
    I like that the pulley helps manage the rope... but I'd sure hate to lose a rescuer that way! At the risk of highjacking the thread, do you guys think the technique makes the difference or is it still a bad move?
    The video you posted is that of a lowering op. The pulley serves no purpose for the handling of the TPB in a lower. It would actually just be an annoyance. The longstanding purpose of the pulley behind the Prusiks is for during a raise, where the belayer simply pulls rope through the pulley with no hands on the Prusiks.

    But anyway, sure, one could certainly also post a video of a lowering op with the pulley in place with a successful belay catch. The question is, does anyone out there want to be dude on the end of the rope? Why would anyone use a belay set up that is known to not work all the time?
    Last edited by EricUlner; 10-24-2013 at 06:50 AM. Reason: clarity
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    [QUOTE=EricUlner; Why would anyone use a belay set up that is known to not work all the time?[/QUOTE]

    I agree with you Eric. The problem is all belays can fail to catch during a main line failure. Some of the reasons are.....the technique used requires that the belayer have a positive grip on the belay line to make it work (Figure 8 plate belay, Munter hitch belay, etc.), the belay fails to catch due to frustration on the belayer (540 and MPD keeps locking up during a lowering operation) so he operates the belay with the device disengaged (540 release lever kept in release mode during the lower or lowering knob in lowering mode with the MPD). Operator error can easily take both of these very effective belay devices out of the system (in theory we have a belay....in reality the operator is forcibly stopping the belay from working). The anchor selected for the belay turns out to be less than adequate to catch that falling load. The belay line breaks during the catch (mechanical rope grabs, chemical damage to the rope, age and abuse of the rope during previous operations, rope runs across a sharp un-padded edge, etc., etc. etc.)

    A big part (maybe bigger than anything I listed above) is history. I find very few "rescuers" interested in rope rescue history. The information is on the internet, it is available from knowledgeable critical thinkers and a lot of it is FREE. The things we cuss and/or discuss on this forum are nothing new. I often find a new rescuer who wants to tell me all about this fabulous piece of rescue gear he just learned how to use that is good for almost anything only to find out his "discovery" is a Figure 8 plate with ears. The rope rescue "instructors" that are supposed to be educating haven't bothered to keep up with testing, techniques, equipment or history. They teach by inbreeding. When they got that coveted instructor's job at the state fire academy (or where ever) the rescue program required students to learn how to tie 15 or 20 knots, tie load-releasing hitches, slide down rope and do pick offs in 40 hours then we give them a certificate, pat them on the butt and send them forth to do good when they had so much information thrown at them that there is no way they can remember enough to be safe during even a simple high angle operation. But because we "have always done it that way" we can't even consider modernizing the course to make it more user friendly and because budgets are tight we can't send our instructors off to classes like Ropes That Rescue, Rigging For Rescue, etc., to update their knowledge and open their minds to different ideas, techniques and equipment. "Old-timers quote... By god, I had to learn all this stuff when I was a student so now that I'm the instructor the students have to learn the same things."

    My "job" as an instructor is to teach a student what he "needs" to know to operate safely, not fill the class with a lot of time wasters that they won't remember.

    I may have gotten just a little off topic so I'll stop my rant..... for now....... Have a great and safe day.

    Mike Dunn
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    Oh yeah Eric, you're right, big difference between a raise and a lower!
    Last edited by BFD5408; 10-24-2013 at 12:21 PM.

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    Good point Mike RE:failure of mechanical devices due to operator error. I've only used the 540 in class (our team doesn't have one) but that potential drawback was definitely part of my first impression.

    But I think we all agree that a double prusik w/o a pulley is a (relatively) safe technique. Not saying its safer than mechanical devices, but at least on par right?

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    [QUOTE=But I think we all agree that a double prusik w/o a pulley is a (relatively) safe technique. Not saying its safer than mechanical devices, but at least on par right?[/QUOTE]

    Tandem triple wrapped prusiks with no PMP are what I would consider to be the "Gold" standard. It is a time-proven belay technique. I am comfortable using it for belay but as with anything, it has its drawbacks. I'm not sure I would say it is on par with mechanical devices like the 540 and MPD in all situations. Anytime you are lowering you need to be prepared to raise. Anytime you are raising you need to be prepared to lower. When (not if) the prusiks activate unintentionally (main line sheath bunching, can't keep up with the speed of the lower, etc.,) you need to be able to quickly free up the prusiks so the lower can continue. The belayer has to immediately yell STOP! You will never release the tension on the prusiks if the main line is continuing to try to lower. A vector of the mail line, or a mechanical advantage hauling system on the main line will allow the prusiks to be reset.

    Once you get above 100 feet in elevation or so the tandem prusiks become increasingly harder to use because of the weight of the line hanging below the prusiks. The 540 has the same problem with height but it is easier and usually faster to unlock than the prusiks. The MPD does an outstanding job at heights above 100 feet. Just pull on the slack end of the rope on a raise and it acts like a PMP except there are no prusiks to "loosen" up. On a long lower, if 2 MPDs are available you can set up a mirrored or twin system. One does the lower and one does the belay until the edge is cleared by the load, rigging and knots. After that they become a 2-rope lowering system backing each other up.

    I get to practice with all three belay techniques in my classes because the company I work for has never been really hesitant to spend money on new equipment if we can justify the expense so I have lots of prusiks, a half dozen 540s and two MPDs. Because the 540 and MPD are mechanical devices they are subject to fail due to manufacturing defects, they may accidentally get dropped over the side and fall a long ways before bouncing, etc. I can always quickly fall back on prusiks to continue the operation when the equipment gremlins start showing up.

    Mike Dunn
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue Dave View Post
    RTR isn't the only bunch that has tested this. Here's one you can watch.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDcsYDAvXko

    Dave
    That is strange, I would expect the prusiks to lock off used in that fashion, not minding the prusiks. Is that to say, with a controlled descent you can keep the prusiks from locking? We use 1/2" rope with 9mm cordage, and the prusiks lock off fairly easily left unattended.

    With the 1/2' rope and 9mm cordage, it seems pretty unlikely that the PMP would snag the prusiks. I can see this being possible with smaller rope and cordage.
    What was the rope and cordage size being used in the examples above where problems occurred?

    Last edited by MichaelXYZ; 10-24-2013 at 04:23 PM.

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    Holy bat guano! I love it when people get passionate about things.

    Here is the deal as I see it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue Dave View Post
    RTR isn't the only bunch that has tested this. Here's one you can watch.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDcsYDAvXko

    Dave
    This shows an improper technique. I can make just about anything operate poorly by intentionally using an improper technique. The belay operator is maintaining tension on the belay line. A TTWPB is part of a Tension Main- Untensioned belay (TM-UTB) haul or lowering system. This is a training issue.

    Quote Originally Posted by BFD5408 View Post
    The same guys posted a clip of a tandem prusik belay the way we were taught to do 'em, with a pulley, but holding the bend in the rope and feeding it through the prusiks.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4yeJwGKMDc
    I'm not saying that its infallible, I really don't know the stats on it, but it was still in the CA SFM RS1 curriculum in 2012. CMC Rescue Tech I/II I think they rigged it w/o the pulley.
    I like that the pulley helps manage the rope... but I'd sure hate to lose a rescuer that way! At the risk of highjacking the thread, do you guys think the technique makes the difference or is it still a bad move?
    This is picture perfect method of using the TTWPB in a lowering system. The belay is maintained in an untensioned manner. We teach this method calling the hand positioning the "Fonz" method, because you keep your thumbs up, otherwise you'll break them off if the line catches a load.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EricUlner View Post
    The video you posted is that of a lowering op. The pulley serves no purpose for the handling of the TPB in a lower. It would actually just be an annoyance. The longstanding purpose of the pulley behind the Prusiks is for during a raise, where the belayer simply pulls rope through the pulley with no hands on the Prusiks...
    I disagree, we tend to build systems that can change from a lower to a raise quickly for a multitude of reasons. Having the PMP on the system in a lower allows for a quick change to a raise by changing the position of the belayer.

    Quote Originally Posted by BFD5408 View Post
    Oh yeah Eric, you're right, big difference between a raise and a lower!
    I hope I read the sarcasm right, sarcasm is hard to interpret in text. If so I agree; with the exception of the direction of travel there is little difference between a lower and raise. The DCD used in the lower becomes a progress capture in a raise and a MA system is added to that tensioned main line. Belay remains an untensioned belay (if using the systems in question with a TTWPB)

    Quote Originally Posted by BFD5408 View Post
    Good point Mike RE:failure of mechanical devices due to operator error. I've only used the 540 in class (our team doesn't have one) but that potential drawback was definitely part of my first impression.

    But I think we all agree that a double prusik w/o a pulley is a (relatively) safe technique. Not saying its safer than mechanical devices, but at least on par right?
    I would venture to say that either system is safe in its operation, but only if the rescuers using that system are well trained in its safe operation. Personally I feel more safe with less mechanical hardware and more soft rope grabs and such, but that is probably because we train (hard) using them.

    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelXYZ View Post
    That is strange, I would expect the prusiks to lock off used in that fashion, not minding the prusiks. Is that to say, with a controlled descent you can keep the prusiks from locking? We use 1/2" rope with 9mm cordage, and the prusiks lock off fairly easily left unattended.
    ...
    Michael, the tension placed on the line by the belayer allows the rope to slip the TTWPs. It would not matter if the cordage was paired correctly for the diameter rope used. The test was created to show a failure by operator error. A good lesson no doubt, shows what an improper technique can result in.

    Then again, I can operate my Ford F-150 improperly, video tape it, post it to youtube, and write a paper about it. It does not mean my truck is unsafe.
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    Firefighter/EMT/Technical Rescue
    USAR TF Rescue Specialist

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    The part that your graphic doesn't show, and what you might not be seeing in the video is the tension being applied to the rope on the opposite side of the prusiks. That tension is what allows the rope to feed around the pulley and straight through the prusiks (without them grabbing).
    When the prusiks are not already set, they need to "snag" the rope, that is they need to have some type of initial friction or catch for them to suddenly grab onto the host rope (hoping you get the idea as I grasp for the right word).
    When you use the bubble turn or the hitchhikers technique the prusiks are oriented 90 degrees to the line of the rope. When a dynamic event occurs the rope is literally pulled from the belayer's hand and in the process it drags the prusiks with it causing them to grab (remember they are turned 90 degrees; that provides the "snag" or catch.
    Of course this assumes that the prusiks are properly dressed and tight on the host rope (not to mention a myriad of other things that influence their performance).
    Hope that helps.
    Dave

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    Drew:
    You comment that the belay is being operated incorrectly is correct... and I think that's the point of Eric's original reply. And I think that Mike has added his agreement; that we need to constantly be moving forward, asking questions, doing testing, making sure that what we were doing is still appropriate.

    You, you can probably make any technique, device or method fail, just do it incorrectly! Again I think the point they are trying to make is that the inclusion of the PMP in the TPB creates an opportunity for the TPB to be operated incorrectly AND a LOT of people (including instructors) don't even know that what they're doing is potentially dangerous. I have seen/heard plenty of people tell students to simply pull on the belay rope during a raising operation.. let the pulley mind the prusiks and all is well. NOT SO as the video shows.

    We have to get the word out there because (sadly) most of the users aren't looking for updated information. Am I the only guy who thinks it's strange that there aren't any continuing education requirements (or for that matter any requirements) to be a technical rescue instructor?
    Dave

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    Dave, I agree!

    I just do not like that someone shows a system with an incorrect technique and then states that system is unsafe. The system is safe if properly taught, and it is the job of instructors to not only show the correct method but the dangers of incorrect methods. Will become a talking point for any time we are using the TTWPB.

    I too am now done with the soapbox. Onward to the next problems.
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    I'll do the soap box thing too. Two things that bother me:

    (1) For some (not all) agencies you can take the 40 hr Technician class and the Instructor 1 class and suddenly you're an instructor. Some agencies ignore the wisdom that 10,000 hrs of exposure is required to create a subject matter expert from the average novice. 10,000 hrs might seem like alot; but, 40 hrs seems like way too little.

    (2) The casual manner in which many people belay; as if the belay is just there to use up extra gear and personnel. One thing that screams casual to me about the TPB is allowing the prusiks to loosen or not dressing them properly in the first place. The prusiks should be snug enough to make an audible sound as the belay line in pulled through them.

    The minding action of the PMP can loosen prusiks; this is just as unsafe as back tension by the operator.

    So, regardless of whether you use the PMP or not, keep your prusiks snug on the belay line.

    And, use the pinch test. Prusiks that pass the pinch test are more likely to grab properly.

    And that's all I have to say about that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FiremanLyman View Post
    Dave, I agree!

    I just do not like that someone shows a system with an incorrect technique and then states that system is unsafe. The system is safe if properly taught, and it is the job of instructors to not only show the correct method but the dangers of incorrect methods. Will become a talking point for any time we are using the TTWPB.

    I too am now done with the soapbox. Onward to the next problems.
    Ok, so your belay just withstood a dynamic event. Your Prusiks are now fused to the belay rope. You throw your haul grab on the rope, insert the free end of the rope into it and start pulling on the z-rig. You can go up with the rope as far as to the point where your fused Prusiks come to the anchored pulley, which is the length of your shorter of the two Prusiks. No, they won't tend against the pulley now. They're fused to the rope. Unwrap them from the rope? Good luck with that.

    I would prefer to simply break into the line with a set-of-fours, if such is the solution to the problem. More options and working room on the rope behind the haul grab.

    Aside from all of that, with a pulley behind the Prusiks in raising mode, even if one is properly handling the Prusiks for the belay, somebody/belayer still needs to pull all of that gained slack thru the pulley at some point. If you're doing it whilst belaying, then that means there is still a hand on that end of the rope, which contributes to the problem of the Prusiks not holding the rope in a dynamic event. Also, the very weight of the slack end of the pile of belay rope laying on the ground behind or next to the pulley could provide enough back tension on the rope to give a similar effect of someone holding the rope. And whether anyone is holding back tension or not on the rope behind the pulley is beside the point that the pulley sheave is lining the rope up perfectly with the tunnel of the Prusiks.

    So again, once you've heard the test package hit the ground, you'll certainly think twice about the unnecessary pulley behind the Prusiks.
    Last edited by EricUlner; 10-31-2013 at 05:09 PM. Reason: clarity

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