July’s SAR Training Practical was the annual rescue ropes training. The word “annual” is a little misleading. The foundation of rope work is knots and hitches, and the Team performs hands-on training regarding those “foundations” numerous times throughout the year. We also perform different variations of system set ups each year at Sheriff’s Night Out for the kid’s mechanical advantage pull of a SAR vehicle, as well as during our “annual” Swift Water Rescue training on the Carson River. Additionally, there is always the potential of putting some sort of anchor or system to use during an actual SAR mission, which is the reason we do this training in the first place.
The “annual” in this case though refers to the opportunity the Team takes to set up complete haul and lower systems with a Rescue and Belay line on an attended litter. Carson City SAR does not maintain the equipment or proficiency to perform vertical/”High Angle” litter work (we leave that to CCFD), but we do perform litter operations in the “Flat”, “Low”, and “Steep” angle realms. This year our Rescue 3 International Certified Technicians/lead trainers utilized a spot off of Ash Canyon Road just East of the Ash to Kings Trailhead for their training area.
With nine Team members available for this training event, the lead trainers kept things simple utilizing a Big Freakin’ Tree (BFT) to anchor both the Rescue and Belay Systems (an alternate anchor in this area would be a BFR. I’ll let you figure that one out but, like “BFT”, it is an industry term). There were enough personnel to run the lower and haul a number of times with all personnel changing positions throughout the training event. Personnel safety is a primary responsibility of ALL, meaning that anyone can call a timeout, but there is also always a designated Safety Officer. Knots, hitches, carabiners, system rigging, etc., are always double and triple checked to ensure safety.
Coming full circle, we return to knots/hitches and every Team member’s familiarity with them. The Team focuses its knot/hitch use on a fairly small but versatile number so that everyone ties the same, and generally the same way. When you are the one strapped in the Class III harness, it is always good to be able to recognize and verify the knot that is holding you in the rope system. It is also a good idea to do that visual and system test before you step over the edge. “Watch out for the first step, it’s a doozie.” Guess the movie reference? (No prizes will be awarded, just a hearty “Well done.”)