1. #1
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    Question Ground-up tower rescue questions...

    I was reading an article recently about tower rescue and in a broad sense how to accomplish one. I have my own thoughts on how to do one, but I had some questions about how they are really done.

    First, they'll be from-below rescues; that'll mean lead climbing to reach the patient. How do you provide a safety line if you have a double-rope rule? Do you use dynamic rope since you are above your protection? If not, how do you belay at the bottom to minimize the fall factor? What do you pack up there? At a minimum, you'll need the means to set up a lowering system to the ground or the next pitch/lowering station, victim stuff (harness,helmet,FAK,etc.), rope to lower victim if you don't use what you led with. In the interest of going light and fast, how do you get it up there? Carry? Haul-bag and bring it up later? If you have a "second" following you, does he/she bring it, since they won't be concerned with things like setting protection and leader falls, and can just climb? Do you even have a "second", or is it conditional, based on variables on-scene? I'm just throwing these out there, if there is something I haven't asked, but you think would help, I'm all ears...

    We don't have any natural areas where any this will apply, just high-line towers and cell/radio stuff...
    ...if you put the handline in the right spot, you won't have to jump out the window...
    -Andy "Nozzles", SQ18, 9-11-01

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    Instead of lead climbing (Which can be a very specialised area of training and set up) why not use an Access Lanyard ?

    The access lanyard is used through out industry for operators to climb structures such as towers and will arrest your fall if it were to occur. (The hooks come in many different size configurations to fit around any style/size structure) This will eliminate the double rope rule as you are always conected to the structure.

    In terms of equipment, I'd use-

    Rescue Strop for the casualty.

    A double stop descender device such as the Auto Stop for the lowering of the casualty.


    To complete the exercise, climb the tower using the access lanyard. Rig the descender direct to the tower on a sling. Thread the 11mm kernmantle rope through it. Place the rescue strop around the casualty. Attach the strop to Figure 8 On the Bite, on the rope.
    Lower them off the tower.

    I've actually trained on HV towers a fair bit over here in Oz and this is one the quickest ways I've completed it. (Biggest was around 100 metres on a 550,000 volt tower. Took about 10 minutes to get to the casualty. Around 5-10 minutes to set up and a couple of minutes to lower to the ground. Varied depending on weather conditions, etc)
    Luke

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    We also use a similar style lanyard for climbing most towers. I say most because I have found some electrical tower members to be too large for the hooks. We also practice lead climbing for this scenario. If the climb will be less than about 30 metres(100ft), the climber will attach the ends of two 12.5mm ropes to the rear gear loop on his harness while he climbs with a dynamic rope. He will climb to a position above the victim and build two redirect anchors to run the main and belay through, which are being run from the ground. He can then attach himself to the main and belay(12.5mm) and be lowered to the victim to perform the rescue. For longer climbs, we will use a 4mm line for the trailing line which can then be used to haul the gear up. For these taller towers we will likely send two climbers. One to set up a belay station up above the patient and the other to perform a rappell style rescue.

    The other thing I have been trying to implement is lead climbing with static rope. This can be done safely despite what the know it all climbers on the team may say. They have typically been taught by rote with no true understanding of what is actually happening. They simply say "you have to use dynamic rope for lead climbing."
    We use static rope in situations where the fall factor is below .3(.25 if you must digest NFPA's garbage). If my belay station is 30 feet away from the base of the tower, I place a pulley as the first piece of protection. Place the protection at 6 foot intervals and you are safe. The worst case fall factor is when I am placing my second piece of protection. At that point I am six feet past my last pro so my fall distance is 12 feet. The amount of rope in service is 36 feet. Fall factor=fall distance divided by rope in service. The fall factor for this is .3 . If you need to meet NFPA's .25 then place your belay station 42 feet away from the tower. This eliminates the need for the extra rope(dynamic).
    Sometimes, in order to make an operation idiot proof, you must remove the idiot!

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    We use a lead climb kit that has a access lanyard attached to a shock absorber http://www.cmcrescue.com/product.php?dept_id=1943
    once the first guy is up then a more traditional belay system can be set up

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    Default Static Rope and "Lead Climbing" Belays

    Resqtek - Interesting issue you raise re: static ropes and lead climbing. It certainly does fly in the face of "common" wisdom.

    When making the decision to lead this way do you carefully evaluate impact forces? Fall factor alone is not the only thing to consider. Rope construction may be a significant factor since the rope construction is a key function of how well it absorbs a fall of any given distance. The belay, intermediate anchor points, and other factors all come into play.

    Even the energy from a low fall factor fall (I know sounds weird) must be absorbed somewhere. The rope, climber, anchors, belayer, etc. all get their share. If the rope is not absorbing significant amounts of the energy - the other components are. Rope characteristics vary and can have a significant bearing on performance in a lead fall situation. Anchor failure becomes a very real possibility w/high impact forces.

    Many readers that may be responding to tower (or similar) incidents are probably NOT thoroughly versed in the physics of rope rescue (a different issue perhaps). Consequently, failing to get XX feet of rope out, YY distance between anchors ("I can't get an attachment here, I'll just go another 10 feet.....") and KNOWING WHY XX and YY are necessary - can lead to catastrophic failures. Isn't that why NFPA calls for a 15:1 static safety factor - have such a huge margin that the impact of any one or two factors is not likely to result in a disaster if someone slips?

    Experienced and knowledgable personnel can have all kinds of "tools" at their disposal. Most people should stick with dynamic ropes in these situations (manage the risk). Even then - there is an assumption that they know how to belay a lead climber, etc......

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    The impact force of that worst case fall in the instance I mentioned is about 5-6 Kn. This even falls below the industrial fall arrest standard of 8 kn. That is using the 540 belay and 12.5mm static rope. The pulley is used at the first point of pro to allow for efficient transfer of impact force through the entire length of rope. I agree that for the less experienced rescuers, dynamic rope might be safer as they may not have a complete understanding of the variables involved.
    Sometimes, in order to make an operation idiot proof, you must remove the idiot!

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    I agree that for the less experienced rescuers, dynamic rope might be safer as they may not have a complete understanding of the variables involved.
    I'd argue that one further- if they don't understand it- don't do it!

    Find an alternative such as the Access Lanyard or know when to call for assistance from a member or department that does know. The potential for a L.O.D.D. keeps coming to mind....
    Luke

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    The access lanyard is by far the safest method to climb these towers but it may not work on all towers in your response area. A pre plan of the towers in your area would be a good idea.

    As far as the lead climbing goes, there is another hazard present that typically gets overlooked. That is the obstruction and entanglement hazard. If you are lead climbing with dynamic rope, you could easily have a 15 foot deceleration due to the elongation of the rope. While it may cushion the impact, it creates a greater hazard of becoming entangled in the tower while falling and being stopped. Most of the towers in my neck of the woods are wider at the base than at the top so this is a very real hazard. The access lanyard addresses this hazard better than any of the others but again, they may not work on all structures.
    Sometimes, in order to make an operation idiot proof, you must remove the idiot!

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    Just from the pics for the access type lanyards, you clip in to each "rung", move up, clip in with other strap, reach down to undo previous strap, and repeat? It seems like, and maybe I don't have it right (the process), that that would be painfully slow. Methodical and safe, but slow.

    If lead climbing I was also wondering about the entanglement mentioned above. Beats dying I guess.

    Gonna do some pre-planning this week...
    ...if you put the handline in the right spot, you won't have to jump out the window...
    -Andy "Nozzles", SQ18, 9-11-01

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    Just from the pics for the access type lanyards, you clip in to each "rung", move up, clip in with other strap, reach down to undo previous strap, and repeat?
    That is correct and yes it can be a bit slow until you get used to using them. Far less skill needed to use them versus lead climbing though.

    Contact a local PPE provider and ask for a set to trial. I've seen experienced tower workers literally fly up towers using them
    Luke

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