Article Archive
Advancements in Rescue Trucks
Volume 22, No. 6

Rescue trucks have come a long way throughout the years. I can remember some 20 years ago building a rescue truck out of a light weight Chevy van that, when loaded, sat very low on the axles. When we inventoried the van, we loaded everything but the kitchen sink that we thought we needed to perform a rescue. A short time later, we realized that we didn't need half the equipment in there. Luckily, we learned this tid bit of information by simply spending many hours training and honing our skills. Most rescues performed today only require a small cache of equipment, which is good tfor slim budget is slim. There are a couple of variables that go into setting up a Rope Rescue truck. Two deciding factors are (1) your needs, and (2) the size of your budget. Whether you are a large enough to have a rescue team, or contract with local public or private rescue services, be sure the rescue truck that is responding is set up with equipment needed to perform a safe, efficient and successful rescue. The very nature of our business is that someone is having a bad day, and when you respond or stand by to help them, it's important to initiate the rescue as quickly and safely as you can.

A majority of rope rescues such as confined space or high angle, as in water towers, electrical power line towers and industry complexes, can be performed using a small assortment of rescue equipment. A simple way to look at performing any rescue is to recognize that you are either going to pick them up, put them down, put them in, or pull them out of someplace. To successfully achieve any of those four steps, I have used age old "reliable" rescue methods, state of the art equipment, and a basic knowledge of rescue techniques, along with the following minimal equipment list:

  • 750? foot of ?" 9000 lb. kernmantle rope
  • Two ropes - 300 foot in length
  • Two ropes - 100-150 foot in length
  • Two ropes - 50-75 foot in length
  • 10 pulleys (five single sheave, five double sheave)
  • ?50 carabiners?????????
  • Two brake bar racks??????????
  • Four 6-foot? anchor straps
  • Six rope grabs tandem prusiks/mechanical????
  • 10 body cords - 26-30 foot
  • 10 webbing - 26-30 foot
  • Five pickoff straps
  • Three screw links
  • One multi-anchor plate

Also included in the rescue truck's list would be: Stokes baskets, long backboards, short backboards, tri-pod, Class 3 Harnesses, assortment of edge protectors, flashlights (including hands-free flashlights) and, of course, personal protective equipment. This list of equipment is geared to outfit three to five individuals wearing Class 3 Harnesses with a body cord, webbing, pickoff strap, and six to nine carabiners each. The rest of the gear will fit nicely into one bag measuring 35"x18"x12", with the 300 and 150 foot ropes in individual rope bags.

Using a small cache of equipment also means that one doesn't have to spend time trying to figure out what equipment bag or bags you'll need when you get on scene. While the scene is being evaluated by your captain, the equipment can be grabbed off the truck and you're ready to respond. Having pre-rigged haul systems in individual bags is a good idea. Be sure no one has borrowed a pulley from the set or has been practicing and didn't get the haul system built exactly right before they put it back into the bag. One of the cons of a pre-rigged hault system is it adds to the number of bags your team has to carry to the scene. Another problem associated with pre-rigged systems is when your team gets to the rescue site, they find that you need to use a 3:1 piggyback system on a main line going into the confined space instead of a 4:1 block and tackle. Would your team be able to change over to the 3:1 on the spot? Do you have the right equipment in the 4:1 system bag to do so?

When building a rescue truck, the decision to have a minimal amount of equipment or every piece of equipment known to man boils down to the budget available. However, whatever amount of equipment your rescue truck has will render the same effect if your team hasn't trained and practiced with that equipment. Spending a short period of time, two or three times a week tying knots, building haul systems, lashing patients onto backboards and into stokes baskets, will save a lot of time on the scene. Training on the very basics of rope rescue and knowing the location of the equipment on your rescue truck before the emergency eliminates hesitation and lets your response be immediate. These are skills you will perform on every rescue, every time.?

Rope rescue means that your team is going to put them in, take them out, pick them up, or put them down. You need rope, pulleys, carabiners, rope grabs of some sort, and a brake bar at the very least. What changes in rope rescues is the equipment, such as tripods, short or long backboards, and stokes baskets. After all, someone is having a bad day, and it falls back on us and our equipment to be ready to respond to the scene and initiate the rescue quickly and safely.


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