Tactical Mountain Rescue Equipment
Rigging for mountain rescue requires a high degree of adaptability. Thus, our equipment often resembles a blend of task specific tools that allow us to safely operate in environments that could include rock, ice, or snow and improvise along the way.
Mobility is often crucial and personal rescue equipment is traditionally inline with UIAA climbing and mountaineering equipment standards and seldom with those of ANSI, CSA, or the NFPA. Weight, bulk, and utility are criteria that mountaineers carefully consider with their personal equipment choices, and traces of these considerations are found in mountain rescue as well- especially when covering a lot of complex mountainous terrain.
An example of personal rigging equipment for mountain rescue incorporating a traditional climbing harness - the Petzl Adjama. The equipment shown allows me to safely operate on each of the critical planes: Descend, ascend, lower, raise, and positioning - I can effectively move myself or my patient vertically, horizontally, and diagonally.
Alternately, incorporating a rope rescue specific harness for urban or tactical operations. The Petzl Falcon functions nicely for this and visually resembles a class III harness which can be helpful when syncing up with the fire service.
I’ll add a Petzl Ring (23kn) to give me some options for fixing lanyards or just for general housekeeping around the ventral D ring.
Recently I’ve been experimenting with the Mad Rock Safeguard for use in work positioning and so far I really like it. I’ve been pairing it with a 150cm Petzl Jane dynamic lanyard for use as a personal tether for climbing rescue and for possible use in helicopter operations. I can also do single rope rappels and victim pick-offs (2:1 or counterbalancing with the Jane incorporated). The Safeguard is similar to the Petzl Grillon (NOT the Gri Gri) but is noticeably less bulky. More details to come in a separate post.
I can rig the Safeguard nicely into the Petzl Ring to keep the unit closer to me.
The Petzl Croll has a couple of different applications. Seconds compound into minutes over the various stages of a technical rescue and I feel attaching a Croll (compatible with 11mm ropes) instead of wrapping a traditional prusik does save time which is a consideration for me.
The Croll can also be incorporated into a personal ascent system. This is similar to a rope access method for climbing a fixed rope.
The Croll can be integrated into an ascent system a number of different ways. Here its using a Petzl Omni carabiner (meant to be tri-loaded as shown) and a doubled Sterling HallowBlock.
Rigging while wearing a catchers mitt is a barrier for me . . . the thumb, index, and middle finger have to be tailored.
Our personal tactical/mountain rescue kit looks a little different each time we change environments and seasons. As a best practice, I try to incorporate purpose built hardware with higher working load limits (WLL) and minimum breaking strengths (MBS) even though it may not be specified in operational protocols. 3 stage carabiners and tapping into equipment specified for technical rope rescue use makes sense to me provided its appropriate for the mission at hand.
The Personal Equipment List:
Petzl Micro Traxion - progress capturing pulley for hauling systems
Mad Rock Safeguard - positioning lanyard, single rope/person lowers, victim pick-offs
Petzl Jane 150cm - dynamic rope energy absorbing lanyard
Black Diamond ATC Guide - personal rappel/belay device
Petzl Croll - rope grab for hauling, personal ascending
Petzl Ring Open - alternate attachment points, belay loop preserving
CAMP Sphinx Pro Pulley - high efficiency pulley, allows for retrievable anchor systems
Petzl Ascender - rope grab for persona ascent
Petzl AM’d Triact lock - NFPA T rated 3 stage carabiner for critical points of attachment
Petzl William Triact Lock - NFPA T rated 3 stage carabiner, for Munter/Italian Hitches
Petzl Adjama Harness - excellent harness for mountaineering and alpine rescue.
Petzl Falcon - excellent harness for tactical rope rescue operations
Petzl Omni - carabiner for tri-loading e.g chest harness connection
Double nylon runner - anchoring and extending rappels
Quad dyneema sling - anchoring, especially good for the “quad” anchor set-up on bolted rock faces.
25 ft of 10kn cordage - 6mm of Tendon cordage rated to 10kn (single strand)
Sterling HallowBlock - Friction hitches
Prusik loop - friction hitches/rappell back-up
Petzl Voltige chest harness
Foot loop - 8 ft of 6mm cord - Fixed to the ascender with a scaffold knot and adjustable around the foot using a Blakes hitch.
Petzl Cordex gloves - *Tailored
Non-locking carabiners for non-critical points of attachment