Low Angle Rescue: A Quick, Simple and Effective Approach
In this article, I will review a simple method of accessing an injured patient with a low angle rescue element involved. Low angle rescues are generally considered to fall between 15 and 35 degrees. Examples include motor vehicle accidents involving vehicles down embankments and injured runners or hikers that leave a trail and fall down an embankment.
When performing a low angle rescue, most of the firefighter’s weight will be supported by the ground; however, descending even a slight grade to access the victim can require additional assistance, especially in wooded or unstable ground situations. The following rope setup can be utilized to maintain balance, prevent falling, and assist in lowering equipment to the victim. Additionally, rope system will be used to help haul the victim to safety.
200’ of 1/2" kernmantle rope (in rope bag)
3’ length of 1” Tubular Webbing tied into a water knot
One (1) Single Pulley
Two (2) large locking carabiners
One (1) backboard or stokes basket
(Each Firefighter/Rescuer should be equipped with a Gemtor harness or ladder belt)
To save time on set up and deployment, keep the water knot in place with a locking carabiner and single pulley connected to the webbing. With the kernmantle rope, create a terminal end at the top of the bag with a Figure 8 on a bight and secure the other locking carabiner to the end.
Creating the Anchor Point
Form a tensionless hitch as the anchor point by utilizing the terminal end of the kernmantle rope (figure 8 on a bight) and the locking carabiner. Use a fixed object such as a pillar, telephone pole or any strong, sturdy, and secured object that is at least four (4) times the diameter of the rope being used.
Descending to the Victim:
Feeding the kernmantle line through the single pulley, attach the pulley to your Gemtor harness or ladder belt while a firefighter positioned at the anchor point controls the line as you descend. This method allows you to descend without having to tend to the rope.
Hauling/Removing the Victim:
Once the victim/patient has been stabilized and secured to the backboard or stokes basket, create a capture for the locking carabiner at the head of the device with the 1” tubular webbing to establish a controlled mechanical advantage.
Making patient contact without having to wait on a specialized team will decrease the time to patient contact and initiation of treatment and transport. Low angle rescue scenarios do not have to be complicated; however, even simple rigging skills can become perishable without regular training that includes scenario variations.
AB Turenne is a 22-year veteran of the fire service in Eastern Connecticut. As a Certified Level II Fire Service Instructor, AB's training curriculum has proven to be conducive with the operational needs of those he teaches and in turn has improved the human capital knowledge of many. A graduate from the Masters of Public Administration program at Anna Maria College, AB has continued his efforts in training and education by contributing to the Fire Engineering Training Community.