NFPA 1006, 2021 Updates

Earlier this week, the 2021 update to NFPA 1006 Standard for Technical Rescue Personnel Professional Qualifications was released. I have been tracking the changes coming for quite some time and have been tweaking my curriculum accordingly. Here are some of my thoughts on some of the changes.

Rope Rescue Operations is a pre-requisite for…

If you remember, the 2017 update did away with the “General Requirements” chapter and moved most of those job performance requirements (JPRs) to the Rope Rescue Awareness and Operations chapters. Naturally, Rope Rescue Operations then became a pre-requisite for many of the other disciplines.

In the 2021 update, Rope Rescue Operations was removed as a pre-requisite for many of the major disciplines. It is still required for certain disciplines that require a lot of rope skills, such as Tower Rescue, Confined Space Rescue, and Swiftwater Rescue. However, it was removed from many others such as Structural Collapse Rescue Technician, which was surprising to me and something I do not totally agree with.

Ascending and descending rope is now technician level

The 2021 update has moved the skills of ascending and descending rope to the technician level. This also includes being able to self-rescue from a jammed or malfunctioning descent control device. I think this was a good move to make. Operations level personnel are still required to get on rope while being lowered and raised by their teammates, but most of the operations level skills now are boots-on-the-ground rigging skills. The technician level includes all of the more challenging on-rope skills and advanced rigging systems such as horizontal rope rescue systems.

Vehicle Rescue has been changed, AGAIN!

In the 2013 edition, vehicle rescue was still combined with machinery rescue. In 2017, vehicle and machinery rescue were split into two separate disciplines. Vehicle rescues involving passenger vehicles were considered operations level and rescues involving heavy vehicles were technician level.

In the 2021 update, the committee has separated vehicle rescue into two different disciplines. We now have Common Passenger Vehicle Rescue and Heavy Vehicle Rescue, each with their own set of awareness, operations, and technician level JPRs. The rough break down is that if the vehicle is resting on all four-wheels or as it is intended to be used, it is operations level. If the vehicle is any other position it is technician level.

I like the way the new standard breaks down vehicle rescue into two different disciplines. Unfortunately, some places still have not finished updating their curriculum to meet the 2017 revision, and this 2021 update will likely cause even more confusion at the local level.

There were obviously other changes made to the standard, but these were the three biggest updates that I noticed. Elder Technical Rescue Services, LLC will be using the updated standard in all our programs immediately. Contact us to discuss setting up training for your agency.

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

New Course – Advanced Rescue Techniques!

I’m happy to announce a new course has been added to our training catalog.  Advanced Rescue Techniques (16 hours) is designed to expand upon the students’ existing operations level skills with additional tactics, techniques, and procedures. The program can be customized to meet the needs of the students but will always include a review of relevant background information, standards and regulations, patient assessment and packaging, and advanced practical scenarios.

Agencies scheduling this course will select the specific disciplines and techniques they wish to focus on in the program. Techniques from the rope, confined space, tower, and water rescue disciplines can be selected. Training officers will be given a list of all the advanced skills available with reference to the current NFPA 1006 standard, and we will work with them to create a custom course of instruction.

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If you are interested in setting up a custom Advanced Rescue Techniques course for your agency, let me know!  I am very excited to offer truly customizable rescue training programs based on the needs of your agency.

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

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

Lessons Learned from a Rope Rescue Training LODD

I frequently review NIOSH Line of Duty Death (LODD) reports to learn from unfortunate incidents in our history where a first responder was killed while performing technical rescue activities.  May 23 is a sad day because it is the date of two LODDs, one in 2011 and the other from 2015.  Today, we will review one of the reports from 2011 when a firefighter was killed after falling from a rope at the end of a training evolution.

Note: This blog post is a quick summary of the NIOSH LODD Report.  If you have the time, please read the full report here.

What Happened

The 35-year-old volunteer firefighter had just completed a rope rescue class instructed by a local technical college and hosted at his fire company.  During the class, there was a demonstration of mechanical advantage systems using the fire company’s aerial device as a high directional anchor.  During cleanup, the firefighter decided to try and climb one of the suspended ropes from the aerial to take down another rope.  Unfortunately, he lost his grip and fell approximately 6-8 feet to the ground, striking his head on the pavement and dying at the hospital from his injuries.

F201112PiSource: NIOSH

Contributing Factors

NIOSH identified three contributing factors to this incident.  First, there was no incident safety officer assigned.  Assigning an incident safety officer with knowledge in rope rescue evolutions can help ensure students do not attempt to perform any activities beyond the scope of their training or the training session’s lesson plan.

The second contributing factor was a lack of appropriate personal protective equipment.  In this incident, the victim was not wearing a helmet.  Remember, it is always important proper PPE be worn, even during the termination phase of the training evolution or real-world scenario.  Rescuers can become complacent during the termination phase.

The third contributing factor was having an inappropriate instructor to student ratio.  In this incident, there was only one instructor for 19 students due to the second instructor calling out at the last minute due to an emergency.  While this specific training session had a relatively low risk plan of instruction (students were not supposed to be on rope per the lesson plan), not having a sufficient number of instructors or an incident safety officer resulted in a student attempting skills outside the scope of the class.

Stay safe!

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

Overcoming Edges the Old Fashioned Way

Edge transitions can be particularly traumatic if a fall occurs.  Rope rescue professionals not only need to be skilled navigating themselves over edges when necessary, but perhaps more importantly, they have to be able to safely move the patient over the edge.  In recent years, a huge amount of emphasis has been placed on using artificial high directionals (AHDs) to navigate edge transitions.  Different AHDs such as the Arizona Vortex and TerrAdaptor have become popular.  These “multipods” can be set up as a tripod, bipod, or monopod depending on the scenario.

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Without a doubt, using an AHD is highly efficient.  It minimizes the amount of friction in the system, minimizes shock loading on the rescue system if there is a fall during the edge transition, and keeps the rope away from sharp edges.

However, not all rope rescue professionals will be set up for success with AHDs.  Many rope rescue professionals function at the operations level, and AHDs may not be practical for them for logistical, financial, or training reasons.  That being said, these rope rescue professionals still need to be able to safely maneuver patients over edges.

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One option that we have found to be effective is rigging the stokes basket with additional pieces of webbing on the four corners.  Once the stokes basket is near the top edge, rescuers at the edge can use the pieces of webbing to help lift the patient over the edge with minimal trauma on the system or the patient.  Remember, it is imperative that the rope is protected from sharp edges and the rescuers are properly protected from falling!

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

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