Chapter 16: Rescue



o       Dynamic rope (p. 262)

o       Static rope (p. 262)

o       Webbing (p. 262)

o       Figure 8 on a bight (p. 266)

o       Figure 8 bend (follow through) around an object joining two ropes together (p. 267)

o       Water knot (overhand bend) (p. 268)

·        List the different advantages and disadvantages of materials used in carabiners (p. 270)



I. Resources

PowerPoint slides, Chapter 15

LCD projector, laptop, rope and webbing samples, carabiners, harnesses, litter


II. Teaching Points


A. Rope construction (p. 261)

  1. The most common materials now used to manufacture ropes are nylon and polyester.
    1. Do not rot
    2. Easily inspected for wear
    3. High strength-to-weight ratio
  2. Natural fiber rope is still made; should be used for utility purposes only
  3. Types of rope construction includes:
    1. Laid rope
    2. Braided rope


B. Laid rope (p. 261)

  1. Simply many small strands of twisted fibers that are combined with other strands to form the diameter of the rope
  2. At one time, laid rope was the most common rope used for climbing, caving, etc.
  3. “Untwisting” when loaded with weight, spinning the rescuer during a rappel, and exposing all fibers throughout its length to dangerous abrasion


C. Braided rope (p. 261)

  1. Woven by overlapping multiple strands much like one would braid hair
  2. Much like laid rope, these ropes also allow the fibers of the rope to be exposed to abrasion and they stretch a great deal when loaded.
  3. One attempt to combat the abrasion and elongation problem was “braid-on-braid” construction, where a braided rope was woven over a smaller braided core.
  4. Braided ropes
    1. Not recommended for emergency use or as a lifeline
    2. Commonly used for utility purposes.
    3. Can be found in most hardware stores


D. Kernmantle ropes (p 262)

1.      Constructed using two parts:

a.       Outer sheath¾tightly woven tube that serves to support a load and also protect the inner core

b.      Inner core¾consist of strands of fibers that are bundled together to provide the majority of the strength of the rope.

2.      These ropes are very strong, easy to tie knots in, and very abrasion resistant.

3.      Failure of the sheath does not greatly affect the strength of the rope

4.      This is the type of rope construction recommended for a lifeline in rescue work.

5.      Two types of Kernmantle rope:

a.       Low-stretch (static)

b.      High-stretch (dynamic)

6.      Low-stretch rope

a.       The inner core is made of strands that are relatively straight and parallel to each other.

b.      When it is important that the bouncing of load is limited, low-stretch rope should be used.

c.       Low stretch rope is not used in situations where a rescuer may fall any distance that may shock-load a system.

7.      High-stretch rope

a.       The inner strands are twisted or braided, thereby allowing them to elongate or stretch under load.

b.      This is an important feature for any climbing activity, as the stretch of the rope will act as a “shock absorber” during a fall.

c.       This property benefits not only the climber, but also the rope itself.

d.      Not as strong or as abrasion resistant in comparison to low stretch.


E. Webbing (p. 262)

1.      Light, easier to pack, and can be used in a variety of situations

2.      Can be used as an improvised harness or anchor attachment, or to secure a patient to a litter

3.      Two main types of webbing construction:

a.       Flat

b.      Tubular

4.      Flat webbing

a.       A single piece of material woven into a strip

b.      Inexpensive to manufacture

c.       Tends to be stiff

5.      Tubular webbing

a.       Commonly used in rescue applications

b.      Constructed in two very different ways:

                                                         i.   Spiral (shuttle loom)

                                                       ii.   Chain structure

c.       Spiral construction method is the better choice for rescue work.

d.      The chain structure method is weaker and susceptible to abrasion that could cause it to unravel like a woven sweater.

e.       Important to remember to purchase tubular webbing for rescue work.


F. Static safety factor (p. 262)

  1. Commonly accepted standard: NFPA 1983, Standard on Fire Service Life Safety Rope and System Components
  2. NFPA 1983 requires a safety factor of 15:1 for all rope and components.
    1. Means that the rope rescue equipment should withstand a load 15 times greater than a one or two person load.
    2. Defines a one-person load as 300 lbs
    3. Example: 15:1 safety ratio would require a 4500-lb breaking strength in order to meet the standard for a one-person load.
  3. Some wilderness SAR teams rely on a 10:1 safety ratio for several reasons:
    1. Allows for lighter equipment 
    2. Tend to be highly trained in the care and use of rope and are very aware of its limitations.
  4. A knot in a rope will reduce its strength by 30%.
  5. A kiloNewton (kN) is equivalent to 225 pounds (102 kilograms).


G. Software care (p. 263)

  1. Rope, webbing, harness, and other “soft” rescue equipment is referred to as “software.”
  2. Easily damaged gear must be used, monitored, and maintained carefully.
    1. Keep a log.
    2. Care
    3. Storage
    4. Regular inspection
  1. Ten rules of rope etiquette
    1. Never step on or drag a rope or equipment.
    2. Use software in a responsible manner¾keep a log.
    3. Protect software from abrasion.
    4. Do not leave rope under tension for any length of time and remove knots as soon as possible.
    5. Store software properly.
    6. Soiled software should be gently and properly cleaned.
    7. Avoid exposing software to sunlight (UV) and high temperatures.
    8. Avoid nylon running across nylon.
    9. Avoid storing rope kinked.
    10. Check all software for damage often.


H. Harnesses (p. 264)

  1. NFPA categorizes life safety harnesses into three classifications:
    1. Class 1¾seat-harness that is designed for a one person load
    2. Class 2¾harness designed for a two person load
    3. Class 3¾a full-body harness
  2. Chest harness is optional; one advantage is it will keep the rescuer upright.
  3. Ladder belts or Pompier belts (simple belts designed to secure one to a ladder) are not appropriate for life-safety applications.


I. Knot, ties, hitches, and bends (p. 265)

  1. Terminology
    1. Bend¾a knot used to join two pieces, or ends of a rope
    2. Hitch¾used to attach a rope to a fixed object or fixed rope
    3. Bight¾a bend placed in a rope
    4. Standing part of a knot¾that portion of the rope that does not move in the knot creation
    5. Running end of a knot¾the end that is being moved about in the tying of a knot
    6. Tail of a knot¾the unused rope that is left over after the knot has been tied
  2. Knots
    1. Figure Eight
    2. Square Knot or Reef Knot
    3. Figure Eight Bend
    4. Overhand bend or water knot (knot tied in webbing)
  3. Prussik sling¾can be used to attach a harness to a lifeline


J. Carabiners and mallion rapide screw links (p. 269)

  1. Metal link with a spring loaded gate
  2. Types of carabiners:
    1. Locking¾spring loaded gate with some means of preventing it from opening
    2. Non-locking¾has a spring loaded gate
  1. Locking carabiners are preferred for rescue application.
  2. Carabiners also come in a variety of shapes:
    1. Oval
    2. D
    3. HMS (pear-shaped)
  3. Mallion rapide screw links
    1. These devices are strong and generally made of steel
    2. Useful when a multidirectional load is expected
  4. Which carabiner to use: steel or aluminum?
    1. Steel

                                                         i.   More strength

                                                       ii.   To some extent, more durable

                                                      iii.   Heavy

                                                     iv.   Tends to rust

                                                       v.   Costs more than aluminum

    1. Aluminum

                                                         i.   Light

                                                       ii.   Does not rust

                                                      iii.   Cheaper than steel

                                                     iv.   Easily damaged

                                                       v.   Locking device is often easier to damage.

8. Carabiners must always be loaded axially and never across the gate.

9. Carabiner care

    1. Must be properly stored and maintained
    2. Visually inspected before use
    3. Check gate and locking mechanism.
    4. Can be cleaned with soap and water
    5. Do not lubricate with oil.
    6. If lubrication is required, use small amount of graphite lubrication.
    7. Consider discarding if it has been shocked, loaded, or has fallen from a great height.


K. Litters (p. 270)

  1. Also known as stretchers
  2. Used to transport an injured subject to a safe location
  3. Can be hand carried or transported by nay number of vehicles or aircraft
  4. Common types of litters:
    1. Improvised¾uses various materials, tarps, tent material
    2. Basket¾combine steel frame with a shell of either steel wire netting or plastic
    3. Wrap around¾a drag sheet made from heavy duty, polyethylene plastic; excellent choices for cave and confined space rescue


L. Patient packaging (p. 272)

  1. The manner in which the patient is packaged depends on:
    1. His or her medical condition
    2. The environment
    3. The manner in which he or she is to be evacuated


M. Litter accessories (p. 272)

  1. Litter wheel for long, relatively flat, or trail evacuation
  2. Litter shields are more effective than helmets for protecting the heads of patients.
  3. Specialized sleeping bags


N. Litter handling (p. 273)

1.      Litters are used to move patients to a place of safety.

2.      Can be lifted by ropes, carried by vehicles, or more commonly hand carried

3.      Be sure to communicate with the patient.

4.      Do not refer to the patient as “victim.”

5.      Do not step over the patient if it can be avoided.

6.      Be careful with the ends of webbing.

7.      Try not to shine a headlamp or flashlight into the patient’s eyes

8.      Be careful when using knives or scissors around the patient and rigging.

9.      Standard carry:

a.       Involves 6 to 8 rescuers distributed around the litter, three or four to a side

b.      The person at the front of the left side is in charge and directs the activities of the others.

c.       Has the advantage of being fast, because little teamwork is required

d.      Usually gives the patient a comfortable ride

e.       Very tiring for the handlers

f.        Ground vision is difficult especially at night

g.       More than one team will be required if the distance to carry the litter is more than the team can cover in about 15 to 20 minutes.

h.       Team leapfrogging is a good method to use on long distances.

10. Caterpillar or lap pass

    1. Use when footing is unstable or there is an obstacle that prevents the litter team from progressing and falling becomes a possible hazard

11. Turtle carry

    1. Most useful for negotiating very narrow passages
    2. One hardy rescuer with gloves, kneepads, and a sense of humor gets on his hands and the litter is balanced on his back.
    3. Two other litter handlers are positioned at the head and the foot of the litter where they maintain balance and guide the litter.
    4. Can be painful for the rescuer in the turtle role

12. Strap carry

            a. Useful to prolong one’s endurance on long carry-outs

13. Tag lines

a.       Use in places that are too low and narrow to do a standard carry, lap pass, or even a turtle carry.

b.      May also be useful during low-angle and short, steep-angle maneuvers.