Application field: Rescue and recovery

Rescue and Recovery: Be Prepared for all Situations

Self-rescue, height rescue teams, mountain rescue, air rescue - who performs rescues when?

Whether working in a high-bay warehouse, on a building structure, or in alpine terrain, the ability to perform a rescue must be ensured in all areas where we move about in the vertical world. Fast and professional rescues minimize the risk of hanging trauma and other physiological damage. In most cases, there is no time to wait for external emergency services. Mutual rescue or, if possible, self-rescue (after placing an emergency call) should therefore be the first priority.
If someone falls into a crevasse while climbing, the rest of the rope team will secure and rescue them. If possible, the person who fell will even climb up the rope by him/herself. Similar applies in industry. If someone falls from a wind turbine ladder, the other team members will initially try to free the injured person from the free-hanging position. The relevant rescue procedures are described by the Global Wind Organization (GWO), the German Association for Rope Access (FISAT), or the Industrial Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA), for example. 

Self-rescue and rescuing colleagues

In the industrial sector (e.g. rescues in high-bay warehouses or wind turbines) it makes sense to work with rescue gear that is as user friendly and safe as possible. Although rescue operations have to be regularly practiced, rescues are always somewhat unique situations. The equipment should make things as easy as possible for the rescuers. 
In view of the above, rescue lifting devices (EN 1496) are often used. These make it possible to quickly lift injured people in order to unburden and release the fall arrest system. The person can then be lowered using the same device.

These devices are protected by a centrifugal brake. This slows all descents without the need for intervention or manual braking on the rope. These devices can also be used for evacuation purposes. If a workplace at a height needs to be immediately vacated, all affected parties can quickly lower themselves down. The centrifugal brake again controls the descent speed in this situation.
With an expanded lift function, rescues are also possible from depths, e.g. from shafts or containers. In such cases the rescue devices are additionally equipped with a lever arm or can even be driven by a cordless screwdriver.

    Rescue from heights and depths by height rescue teams and the fire department

    General fire departments are not usually prepared for special rescues from heights or depths. Sets of equipment (fall protection sets) that secure emergency personnel in areas where there is a risk of falling (roofs, etc.) are used in this area as standard. This means that it is not possible to perform rescues from a free-hanging rope, however. In view of the above, fire departments have specially trained height rescue units with the necessary training, knowledge, and equipment to meet the special requirements of rescues from heights and depths.

    So as to be ready for the broadest range of scenarios, such equipment includes stretchers, block and tackles, ropeway construction gear, etc. Products with additional safety such as cut-resistant ropes from EDELRID support these units in their work.

    PPE for air rescue

    In the case of air rescues, the rescuers are generally lowered down to the people who need rescuing by a winch. The winch operators in the helicopter have to be protected against falling by personal fall protection equipment. The rescuers wear special air rescue harnesses that enable simple connection to the helicopter’s winch while also being as light and comfortable as possible to offer optimum flexibility in complex emergency situations. Rescue loops or triangles (EN 1498) can then be used to rescue the accident victims.

    When performing a rescue from above, operating from a helicopter, or using a lowering system, a rapid rope-cutting rescue may well be necessary. In such cases, the equipment also includes cutting pliers and a specially developed lanyard that can be attached extremely quickly to secure the injured person to the rescuer.


      Terrestrial mountain rescue

      If an air rescue is not possible, for example because no helicopter is available or the weather conditions do not allow a flight, the mountain rescue teams have to perform a terrestrial rescue, i.e. a rescue from the ground. To reach and secure the injured person as well as implement further rescue measures, the emergency services need equipment that they can rely on and that can be used safely and efficiently. In addition to the extended PPE, rescue systems with special Dyneema® and static ropes are particularly used in these situations. Redundant anchor points for multi-person loads often have to be set up as well.