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!

Breaking Down the Petzl Maestro

Earlier this year, Petzl released its new descent control device, the Maestro.  It comes in two models, the Maestro S (10.5 – 11mm rope) and the Maestro L (12.5 – 13mm rope).  We have finally gotten our hands on the Maestro L and will be implementing it into our future training programs.  Here are a few of our initial thoughts on the device.

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One of the first things we noticed was how easy the device is to set up.  It has been designed incredibly well so that a rescuer can open the moving side plate and quickly identify how to load the rope into the system.  While seemingly a very simple task, other devices released on the market have not always been so intuitive.

The Maestro offers a significant amount of control when lowering, courtesy of several features.  The sheave that the rope wraps around in the device is textured and offers increased friction points.  As the rope leaves the device on the descent control side, there is a fixed brake for the rope to wrap around to form an S shape.  If needed, the rope can also be wrapped around an external brake that is built onto the device.  This extra turn gives the operator a lot of extra friction that helps him or her safely lower the load.  The handle used to control the descent locks automatically when released, and it features a small hole so you can even use a pilot cord to operate the handle remotely.

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In addition to offering additional friction points inside the device, the sheave is also large and works on sealed ball bearings.  This enables a mechanical advantage system to be rigged using the device while maintaining a high level of efficiency.  It is simple to use the device to set up simple mechanical advantage systems, including a 3:1 z-rig and a 4:1 system used for vertical confined space rescue scenarios.

Another new feature with the hauling aspect of the Maestro, is an audible click.  As the sheave spins during the raising evolution, the operator will hear an audible clicking sound.  The device does not offer the anti-panic or anti-error features like the Petzl ID.  However, if the device is accidentally rigged backwards, the audible clicking sound should alert the rescuer that something is wrong prior to the load breaking the edge.

Watch the video below to see how the Maestro works as the rope is raised (left hand pulling in video) and lowered (right hand pulling in video).

Note: NEVER operate the Maestro with the moving side plate open!  This video was taken in this configuration only to show how the device functions!

We have not been able to play around with the device much as a belay device, but we plan on covering that in a future blog post.  Here are some of our initial overall Pros and Cons of the Petzl Maestro L.

Pros:

  • NFPA 1983 General Use Certified (rated for up to 617 lb. loads)
  • Price is less than the similar CMC MPD
  • Design is very intuitive
  • Tremendous control when lowering
  • Hole in handle for remote operation
  • Audible click when raising
  • Large sheave offers great efficiency when raising
  • Built-in auxiliary attachment point (i.e., becket)

Cons:

  • Price is still more than the Petzl ID, which can offer similar functionality but without the higher efficiency when raising
  • Nearly twice the size of the Petzl ID
  • No anti-error feature
  • No anti-panic feature
  • Unable to open the moving side plate while connected to a carabiner
  • We discovered that some of our tri-links will not fit into the Maestro’s anchor attachment hole

Contact us if you want to set up some training or simply want to check out the new Petzl Maestro.  We can also provide a quote if you are interested in adding this new piece of equipment to your inventory.

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