1. #1
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    Default Two lines or one?

    Undoubtedly I am sure we will agree the rules state that we shall use two independent lines while working on rope (unless outstanding reasons are cause enough for one). How many of you have heard someone say that in a real emergency only one will be used to hurry up and save time? I have had people say this to me in more then one instance and have even seen it taken to a point that a stand by rescue was setup with one line because "there will be no time for two lines when it's time to rescue".

    I don't see it this way in any means (unless two lines brings more danger). Especially with the advancements being made with gear. In a way I feel this is almost a sign of lacking confidence in a team or single persons ability to do the job. Am I the only one that is angered by this a little (mind you I climb for a living so this may be why I hate hearing this more so then others).

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    How much do you value the person on the end of the rope? As has always been told to me, "fast is slow, and slow is fast". The time required to add a second line is minimal where safety to your team is concerned. Team safety is No. 1 priority, if that adds to the timetable so be it.
    In time of rescue, I will always put my teams safety first, the victim comes second, and I don't mean that to sound uncaring. This is the mindset that has been taught to me.
    I don't always express myself well, so I hope that made sense.

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    "Undoubtedly I am sure we will agree the rules state that we shall use two independent lines while working on rope…"
    Just out of curiosity, can anyone quote the specific rule/regulation that mandates the use of two independent lines (other than the retrieval line in confined space)?
    Dave

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    By two lines, I am assuming we are talking a main line, and a belay.

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    We practice and use SRT (single rope technique) for rescuers. Will not go into the pros and cons.

    Anytime that we are putting a victim, or a general load (2 person) we will use a main and belay (or a two tension rope system). There is no excuse I can think of for not doing this.
    ~Drew
    Firefighter/EMT/Technical Rescue
    USAR TF Rescue Specialist

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    I've heard this from a few "self-proclaimed" experts in my department as well as others where I have taught. Other than a specific situation where a belay may hurt more than help (few and far between in my opinion), I can't really see a reason for not taking the time to do this. The most common reason when I've challenged people (other than set up time, which I easily deflate when I tell them that practice = proficiency), is not enough anchors. Which I also call BS on, because even in the worst situation a bomb proof anchor can be used for both main and belay as long as you keep the systems separate to that point. Bottom line, take the time and do it right, most times were not talking about a little fall. I too am also interested as to where the actual written rule is located as I have not been able to locate it specifically.
    John D. Calamia, BS, NREMTP, FP-C
    Firefighter/Flight Paramedic
    Broomall, PA

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    I like the comment on "practice will bring proficiency". I would also go along with the pre planning of your response area. If you are like the 90% of the departments out there that could reach everything with 100 ft of rope and you carry 200 ft of a single rope then the way you pack your line can be a big time saver. Instead of packing your rope in the bag starting at one end double the rope up and daisy chain it. Start at the bight of the rope when doubled and daisy it from there. This will make for a quick find of the middle of the line so you can split the rope and now have a main and a back up in less then a minute. At that point you can rig your system. Adding a personal backup to the rescuer or victim will take away from someone having to tend that part giving more hands to be free for other work. Stream line your system and I find the second line will not even be a thought. Just one small example I am sure of a lot that companies can come up with that fits them and what they do. But that seems to be a good all around starting point. Plus I find daisy chaining makes clean up faster and deployment faster (well deployment in most cases).

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    So along the same lines, we have this debate often.

    Say there is a main line failure (anchor, DCD, rope, whatever), and you load is now on the belay in mid lower/raise. Do you now continue to lower/raise on that belay (either through a DCD or adding a piggy back MA) or do you stop and add a new main line to replace it. Remember you are going to have to set up and take that line down to the load.

    My though is that you have experienced an emergency event, use the rest of the system to finish the evolution under emergency conditions. Just like us at a fire, when you deploy a RIT team to go after a lost firefighter do you wait till a new RIT is established, or take care of the emergency operating under "hey an emergency is happening conditions"?
    ~Drew
    Firefighter/EMT/Technical Rescue
    USAR TF Rescue Specialist

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    As Drew noted, this topic is among those that can stir a lot of debate.

    I certainly have seen and applied SRT techniques quite safely and effectively in rescue ops. It is not preferred if we can go with 2 ropes (we typically use a two tensioned rope model), but I would not hesitate to go with one rope given the right circumstances.

    With a focus on remote area/mountain rescue our operating environment often limits options that our fire service based counterparts wouldn't likely face. Available equipment can often become a factor where additional rope may be miles away. We will use single rope techniques to access a victim and stabilize the situation (i.e., get to the subject and secure them from a potential fall).

    We may choose to wait for additional equipment and manpower before effecting the evac or, if the situation warrants, proceed with a single rope evac. Rescuer experience, victim status and a careful evaluation of the risks vs. gains must always be factored in. I have been on the sharp end of the rope when deciding to go with a single rope lower of over 360' (my crew of 4 was carrying 600' total) with a subject who could not wait 2.5+ hours for additional rope to arrive. It was not a decision arrived at lightly.

    For most of our rescue scenarios we almost always operate under a, "Everyone takes a rope." approach since it is far better to have extra than not enough.

    I will say that going with 1 rope because setting up 2 is "too hard" or takes "too much" time doesn't pass muster. The practice = proficiency comment is spot on. A two rope system can be ready to go in a few minutes in nearly every situation once rescuers are on scene.

    I agree with Drew's other comments re: an emergency event. If there is a failure our preferred approach is to finish the evolution via SRT unless there are other factors.

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    Going off the "finishing the rescue with one line after a failure of one" (not saying that I am against this). Like Mnt and Drew stated, you have to consider the situation at hand. It is not an everyday event that a line just breaks. So if it was to happen I would be very cautious as to why. How would you explain your reasoning for continuing a rescue without a second line after a first failure when the second line breaks as well? Sure a long shot, but then again you have just had a shock load to the remaining system and the first line did break for a reason. Of witch the remaining line most likely was exposed to as well. Don't get me wrong and take me as a must have two rope at all times guy, I assure you I am not. Just putting some thought to it. Also I see any drop past 600' as a single line rescue. This may sound strange but weight of rope and being delt with and other conditions that come with such a long drop brings me to that thought. Anyone here deal with drops or have delt with drops of that distance have a diffrent way of looking at that?

    Oh and yup I like to stir discussion, it makes people think and look further at why they do what they do. People don't question things enough anymore. To many yes sir, I don't have a brain of my own people anymore.

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    Any unexpected event has to force a reassessment of the situation. The reassessment may absolutely find a complete replacement of the system is warranted if rescue lines have been compromised in any way (such as by rockfall). An anchor may be compromised and need to be backed up (maybe the tree that seemed so bomber isn't), etc.

    I see one of the big pluses of a two tensioned rope system is the reduction in potential shock loads.

    Re: very long lowers. Double ropes are not really an issue. Lowers of hundreds and even thousands of feet are relatively common in places like Yosemite. This link has some good shots of a rescue on El Capitan. Lower was almost 3,000 feet top to bottom. Long raises are also very doable but it is a lot of work hauling when gravity can provide the muscle. Edge protection is a big deal as you can imagine.

    Long lowers of 400-500' plus in less than vertical terrain are actually harder IMHO.

    There are no "yes men" (or women) on these kinds of operations. Highly seasoned and trained personnel are the standard and anyone can ask about the plan and certainly stop an operation for any safety concern or question. Making sure that everyone - regardless of role - is on the same page is critical as you can imagine.

    Keep throwing out the comments and questions!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue Dave View Post
    [I] Just out of curiosity, can anyone quote the specific rule/regulation that mandates the use of two independent lines (other than the retrieval line in confined space)?
    Dave
    Good morning Dave,

    OSHA requires 2 independent lines in 29 CFR 19101.66 Powered Platforms for Building Maintenance, Appendix "C", Section e - Care and Use, Line 5 - When vertical lifelines are used, each employee shall be provided with a separate lifeline. This standard is designed to be used by those workers using powered platforms to ride up and down a building cleaning windows, sandblasting, painting, etc. Appendix C is where they hide the fall protection requirements. OSHA requires the use of a separate safety line.

    ANSI Z359.4-2007, Safety Requirements for Assisted-Rescue and Self-Rescue Systems, Subsystems and Components, Section 7 Equipment Selection, Rigging, Use, and Training, Paragraph 7.2 Equipment Rigging and Use, 7.2.8 - The rescue plan shall consider using secondary back-up safety lines for the rescue subject during a rescue operation.

    So, while ANSI requires you to think about using a separate safety line for the "victim", it does not require you to actually use them.

    I have made one rescue from a vertical confined space (2 workers at the same time) using only the main line. The atmosphere was going bad, they had 5-minute escape packs and rather than drop them down a belay line and a set of air hoses to hook into their escape packs, we hauled them out with a 2-man rated rope winch on a tripod. It was about a 500 pound 20 foot lift and we had them both out of the vessel in less than 4 minutes with a 3-man rescue standby team.

    My "normal" practice is main and belay but as with everything, there may be an exception to the rules.

    Mike Dunn

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    >>>Just out of curiosity, can anyone quote the specific rule/regulation that mandates the use of two independent lines (other than the retrieval line in confined space)?>>>

    My understanding: The use of two independent lines is considered a "best practice". There is no regulatory document (at the national level for 9-1-1 response) that mandates the use of two independent lines. Other unwritten best practices include "whistle test" and "critical points test" compliance.

    If I'm wrong, call me out.

    I'm a climber, so I'm not SRT-phobic. SRT does not necessarily equate to unacceptable risk. However, the use of two independent lines (whether main/belay or two tensioned) for rescue loads is considered to be a best practice by the vast majority of responders.

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    I am not currently riding with any rescue company (fire department/EMS) so I am not seeing locally what companies have been up to. So I ask this question to get a feel as to what companies are seeing or doing currently. Are you all still having a backup line directly connected to the load or are any of you placing a backup device such as the ASAP on to the backup line? IMO making life more simplistic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by servantleader View Post
    >>>Just out of curiosity, can anyone quote the specific rule/regulation that mandates the use of two independent lines (other than the retrieval line in confined space)?>>>

    My understanding: The use of two independent lines is considered a "best practice". There is no regulatory document (at the national level for 9-1-1 response) that mandates the use of two independent lines. Other unwritten best practices include "whistle test" and "critical points test" compliance.

    If I'm wrong, call me out.
    OSHA only requires 2 lines (main and safety/belay) in their fall protection standard where they state that if you are supported by one line then a completely separate safety line will be attached also.

    The retrieval line in the confined space rescue standard is just that.....a single retrieval line. It's purpose is for the attendant (hole watch) to be able to use the retrieval line to make a non-entry rescue. OSHA does not intend for you to enter the space, attach a belay line and then bring out the dead body. Once they are out of the confined space that is often only half the rescue. You still have to get them to the ground. If you use rope to lower them to the ground then the fall protection standard kicks in and a belay line is required.

    OSHA is Law for industry in all 50 states and U.S. Territories. It may be law for fire departments in states that have their own OSHA plan for their state. There are 26 of these states/territories. It is not law for fire departments, rescue teams if you are in a state that subscribes to the federal OSHA plan like Louisiana. All you have to be able to do is convince a jury of your peers why a separate belay/safety line wasn't used to protect the person hanging on the end of the rope if an accident occurs. Sometimes "Best Practice" isn't safe or practical at a rescue event but you need to be able to defend your actions, whatever they were.

    Mike Dunn

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