GORUCK Rigging Bag Overview

We recently switched up our rigging bags to two GORUCK GR0/GR1 rucks, and we wanted to share our set up with all of you.  If you are not familiar with GORUCK, please check out their web site.  The long and short of their company is that they were founded by a former Green Beret and they manufacture some fantastic gear in addition to hosting rucking events that will push you and your team members beyond your physical and mental comfort zones.

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I have been wearing my GR0 bag (pictured above, right) for several years and after some experimenting, decided to acquire a newer GR1 bag and make them rigging bags for ETRS technical rescue courses.

Here are the contents of each bag:

5 – Carabiners
3 – Tri-Links
1 – Swivel
1 – Rigging Plate
1 – Double Pulley
2 – Single Pulley
2 – Sets of Prussiks
2 – Descent Control Devices
1 – ASAP
1 – Work Positioning Strap
1 – Anchor Strap
1 – Set of Fours
2 – Lengths of Webbing (15′ and 20′)
1 – SMC Flex (Edge Pro)
1 – 3″ Fire Hose (Edge Pro)

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Each bag has some slight variations in specific makes and models of the equipment.  This allows us to introduce our students to different types of equipment on the market and discuss topics such as NFPA 1983 ratings.  For example, one bag has steel G-Rated carabiners, while the other has aluminum T-Rated carabiners.  We also have a variety of descent control devices (Petzl ID, Petzl Maestro, ISC D5), work positioning straps (Petzl Grillon, Kong Trimmer) and sets of fours (Petzl JAG, Aztek Kit).

The bags remain remarkably light and ergonomical and allow students in our small group classes to split up and accomplish their rigging objectives without breaking their backs.

Check out our Rope Rescue Operations – Blended Learning program or private rope rescue training sessions if you want to do some training and check out our bags in person.

Bill Elder
Owner / Lead Instructor
Elder Technical Rescue Services, LLC

Confined Space Rescue Operations (Blended Learning) Coming Soon!

We are excited to announce that we are currently reviewing the first draft of our upcoming Confined Space Rescue Operations (Blended Learning) program.  This course will allow students to complete the cognitive portion of Confined Space Rescue Operations class online, at their own pace.  Upon completion of the online component, the student will participate in a full day of hands-on practical skills training in order to receive the Confined Space Rescue Operations (16 hours) Certificate of Continuing Education.

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The pre-requisites for this course will be previous Hazardous Materials Operations Level and Rope Rescue Operations Level training.  For those totally new to the technical rescue world, this course will be available as a bundle with our existing Rope Rescue Operations (Blended Learning) course.

We still have a lot of work to do on this program, but we wanted to let you know that it is on the way.  We are dedicated to providing high-quality and flexible training options that produce competent rescuers.

Bill Elder
Owner / Lead Instructor
Elder Technical Rescue Services, LLC

Confined Space Atmospheric Hazards, Part 4/4

We have finally arrived at Part 4 of our Confined Space Atmospheric Hazards series.  We have already discussed some general concepts and principles of performing atmospheric monitoring at confined space incidents, oxygen-related hazards, and explosive atmosphere hazards.  In this post, we are going to focus on the two toxic gas sensors that most emergency services agencies use – carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulfide.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas produced by the process of incomplete combustion.  The Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health (IDLH) level of CO is 1,200 ppm.  Most four-gas detectors are set to begin alarming at the “low” level when the CO level reaches 35 ppm, which is the NIOSH Recommended Exposure Limit (REL).  35 ppm is not enough to immediately kill or incapacitate a person, but it does tell you that there are hazardous atmospheric conditions inside the confined space and that you should utilize the appropriate type of respiratory protection if entering.

Carbon monoxide’s explosive range falls between 12.5% and 74%, which is relatively wide and can be easily encountered in confined spaces.  Lastly, CO’s vapor density is 0.97, which means it is just slightly “lighter than air.”  This means you will possibly find CO close to the top of the confined space, but it may also be present throughout the space.

Hydrogen Sulfide

Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is a colorless gas that has a strong smell of rotten eggs.  While the gas is easily perceptible initially, it can also wipe out your sense of smell.  Obviously, this is why we need to rely on our gas detectors and respiratory protection and not our sense of smell at confined space incidents.  H2S is naturally produced by decaying organic matter and is commonly found in confined spaces.

The IDLH for H2S is 100 ppm, which means it is more toxic than CO.  Most four-gas detectors will alarm at 10 ppm, which is the NIOSH REL for H2S.  The explosive range is 4% – 44%, which makes it slightly lower, but also narrower than CO.  Lastly, the vapor density of H2S is 1.19, which means it is “heavier than air” and will be found at the bottom of the confined space.

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Real-World Scenario

On January 16, 2017, three workers in Florida were killed and one firefighter was injured in a confined space.  Workers were investigating a smell of rotten eggs reported by the people living in the neighborhood.  After the first worker entered the confined space and became unconscious, two of his co-workers went in to attempt to perform a rescue and all three of them died.  The firefighter also entered the confined space without an SCBA, but luckily survived.  H2S and Methane were present in the confined space.

Stay safe out there.  Know the hazards and know your gas detectors!

Bill Elder
Owner / Lead Instructor
Elder Technical Rescue Services, LLC

Confined Space Atmospheric Hazards, Part 3/4

We are back for Part 3 of our Confined Space Atmospheric Hazards series.  In this post, we will be discussing explosive/flammable atmospheres.  For the purposes of this blog post, we will be utilizing the term explosive to keep things clear and concise.

Explosive Atmospheres

An atmosphere is explosive when a flammable gas is present in the space in enough quantity that it can explode with the introduction of an ignition source.  If there is not enough of the flammable gas, we refer to the gas as being below its lower explosive limit (LEL).  If there is too much flammable gas, we refer to the gas as being above its upper explosive limit (UEL).  It is the area between the LEL and UEL that is the most dangerous – the explosive range.

Explosive Range

In the graphic above, the explosive range is shown sandwiched between the LEL and UEL.  Note that the actual explosive range for every gas is different.  Some gases, like acetylene have a very wide explosive range which makes them extremely hazardous.  The explosive range of acetylene is 2.5 – 100% (NIOSH Pocket Guide).  It takes relatively little acetylene to make a confined space atmosphere explosive, and it will stay explosive even as its concentration increases to high levels.

We monitor for explosive atmospheres using our typical four-gas detector with an LEL sensor.  Most emergency services agencies use a sensor that shows them a % of LEL.  What that means is that the percentage displayed on the detector is essentially telling you how close you are to reaching the LEL.  The graphic above depicts the area that is analyzed by your sensor.  If your sensor says 10%, which also happens to be the highest acceptable level for confined space entry, that means you are 10% of the way to being in an explosive atmosphere.  Remember, every gas is different, and your sensor is only calibrated to one specific gas.  Correction factors can be used to determine more accurate levels if you know your calibration gas and the gas present in the confined space.

Combustible Dusts

Gases are not the only explosive hazard inside confined spaces.  Combustible dust explosions occur when a fine, combustible dust is suspended in the air and ignited.  Between 1980 and 2005, there were 281 combustible dust incidents that resulted in 119 workers killed and 718 injured.  Emergency services agencies typically do not carry or utilize detector technology that can monitor dust concentrations.  I highly recommend getting out into your community and pre-planning facilities that may have this issue!

In Part 4 of this series of posts, we will be looking at the two most used toxic gas sensors – carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S).  Check back soon!

Bill Elder
Owner / Lead Instructor
Elder Technical Rescue Services, LLC

Confined Space Atmospheric Hazards, Part 2/4

In our first Confined Space Atmospheric Hazards post, we discussed the basic principles of atmospheric monitoring in confined spaces and operating our four-gas detectors.  In part two of our Confined Space Atmospheric Hazards series, we will be discussing hazards related to oxygen deficiency and oxygen enrichment.

Oxygen Deficiency

The air you are breathing right now is comprised of approximately 20.8% oxygen.  If the oxygen levels are reduced below that, you can begin to experience health effects.  Oxygen is essential to sustain human life.  All our vital organs rely on oxygen in order to properly function.  In confined spaces, we use the range of 19.5% – 22% to define an acceptable oxygen concentration in the air.  However, any oxygen concentration below 20.8% could indicate there is another hazard present.

F201031PiThis confined space killed a utility worker and firefighter, partly due to an oxygen deficient atmosphere.  Source: NIOSH.

Oxygen deficiency can be caused several ways.  Oxygen displacement occurs when there is another gas inside the confined space that is pushing the oxygen out.  This can occur intentionally when a confined space is filled with an inert gas for a specific purpose, or due to an unexpected leak or chemical reaction that creates a gas that displaces the oxygen.  The oxygen can also be consumed, for example by combustion, oxidation (i.e., rusting), or through workers’ respiratory systems consuming the oxygen.

Oxygen Enrichment

Oxygen enrichment technically occurs when the oxygen concentration exceeds 21%.  However, our acceptable entry conditions allow us to enter a confined space in concentrations up to 22%.  When the atmosphere is oxygen enriched, there is an increased risk of fire.  Furthermore, if a fire does occur, it will generally burn with more intensity than it would if there was a normal oxygen concentration in the air.  Oxygen enrichment can occur when pipes or cylinders leak, liquefied gasses are improperly handled or disposed, and through mad-made processes such as welding.

Real-World Case

In December 2011, a firefighter was killed when he entered a confined space to rescue an unconscious utility worker at the bottom of a sewer manhole.  The confined space had both an oxygen deficient atmosphere as well as other toxic gases.  The medical examiner reported that the firefighter’s cause of death was asphyxia and exposure to the toxic gases.  For more information about this case, read the NIOSH LODD Report.

The next post in this series will discuss flammable atmospheres.  Check back in a few days.

Bill Elder
Owner / Lead Instructor
Elder Technical Rescue Services, LLC

Mention this blog post when contacting us to set up a confined space rescue class for your agency and receive a 10% discount on the cost of the class!