Still going strong. Changed PT time to 1830
Black Diamond Vertical Rescue Training II – July 9-10 AAR by Doc “The Legend” Miller
BUSAR was represented during week two of Black Diamond Vertical Rescue training by Jenny Jutofsky, Ashley Lewis and Ken Miller. The same cadre of great instructors and enthusiastic students enjoyed perfect weather after severe storms Friday night. Many basic and advanced skills were checked off including:
- ascending on frog and rope walker systems
- rappelling on rescue 8, brake bar rack (J and U) and micro rack
- rappelling on a weighted line
- change-overs from ascending to descending and vice versa
- building anchor systems
- building and using hauling (2:1, 3:1, 4:1 and 5:1) systems
- building and using lowering systems
- changing from haul to to lowering systems and vice versa
- belaying climbers and those on rappel as well as rescue loads
- hauling and belaying semi-tech rescue loads (litter patient and bearers)
Day 1 training concluded with a surprise rescue scenario to access, evaluate, package and evacuate (semi-tech) a “victim” who had fallen from the waterfall cliff. That included quickly rigging hauling and lowering systems for a safe carry-out to the road. After de-rigging and re-packing all the gear, supper was followed by knot tying, marshmallow roasting and networking around the campfire.
Day 2 began with re-rigging 4 ropes on the rock for vertical students to practice and have skills evaluated. A horizontal tensioned line was rigged down below so the K9s could get some harness time as well. Sunday’s weather was beautiful and we completed 16 hours of great instruction and hard work over the week-end.
Weekend 3 Black Diamond Vertical Training will be August 20-21 beginning at 9am. I have reserved campsite 5. There will be a pot luck dinner provided Saturday night with a gear auction. If you have any old gear you want to get rid of, you may donate it to the auction. All are welcome!
Swiftwater Rescue Training II – July 29-31 TARS Hiwasee River
Herrington, Morgan, Hesse, Grieco, & Jutkofsky attended. Benjamin instructor – Lots of raft work, tethered swimmer drills, patient packaging, night ops, haul systems, foot entrapment drills, etc. This link has pics and vids:
Swiftwater Rescue Training II – August 19-21 TARS Hiwasee River
Same as training as above. Ransom and Lewis attended. Benjamin instructed.
Black Diamond Vertical Rescue Training III – August 20-21 AAR by Doc “Hunk” Miller
BUSAR was again well represented at Backbone Rock where the hard core were undeterred by the threat of thunderstorms with heavy rain on Saturday. Rather than risk potential exposure to lightning and torrential rain from the coming storm if it proved necessary to urgently de-rig 5 ropes, hauling and lowering systems, the superb Instructor cadre (who have done that more than once before) already had Plans B and C ready. Cobras Hesse , Sharbel, Jutkofsky and Miller would join the rest of the Basic and Advanced students in a pre-planned technical rescue scenario, moving a litter up and over the Rock.
Backbone Rock is a pillar, forming a 100 foot high fin of solid stone, on a ridge of Holston Mountain. It is surrounded by a bend in Beaverdam Creek and penetrated by “the World’s Shortest (10 meters) Tunnel” The task was to move a litter loaded with a simulated patient up and over the Rock to a Medevac unit on the other side using only the equipment in the supplied Wilderness Technician Pack, what we had on our harnesses and four 150 foot ropes. The north face of the precipice initially slopes gradually from our starting point near the creek, but soon angles upward 30, 45, 60 degrees through a rhodendron hell terminating in a 30 foot high vertical face. The first task was to send out recon parties to scout the best way through the hell to the top of the ridge and down the other side.
Once the route was determined, the litter team clipped in and began their semi-tech ascent into hell with the “patient”. Meanwhile the recon teams began rigging a route through the rhododendron to haul the litter team and patient safely through the increasingly technical terrain.. The rhodo hell was traversed by bushwhacking with the aid of a 3:1 haul system to help us gain the vertical face below the cliff top. Simultaneously, a team was rigging additional anchors on the ridge top.
When the litter was in a stable location at the bottom of the north face, the haul system was quickly broken down and moved to the the new anchors on top where a belay system was also rigged. The litter and an attached attendant were then protected with a belay line and hauled with a z-rig to the top of the cliff while the rest of the litter team ascended by a separate route to meet them.
Meanwhile the other recon team scouted the safest place to lower the litter and attendant to the Medevac unit on the south side of the sheer vertical cliff. The second haul system was broken down and moved ahead of the litter to the top of the sheer vertical drop above the creek on the other side. Anchors were built, then lowering, belaying and hauling systems were rigged.
Finally the litter and attendant were lowered down the vertical face, tied off mid-face, and then hauled back up for a short distance for gain experience changing from a lowering system to a hauling system, then back again. The litter and attendant were then lowered safely to the ground for transport before the storm arrived. It was a great learning experience for everyone involved and clearly demonstrated why we must learn and practice these technical skills and teamwork and be ready to think “outside the box” to solve problems with limited resources. Our ultimate goal is to become so proficient as a team that the litter never stops moving!
Saturday afternoon was spent rotating through hands-on stations in Land Navigation/Map Reading, Anchor Building and Litter Patient Packaging while the predicted rain approached slowly. A cookout followed, featuring a bountiful feast and the best pork I have ever tasted, lovingly prepared by Grill Master/Black Diamond Coordinator/Lisa Hannon Award recipient Mike Maggard. The rest of the evening was spent with a fund raising gear auction and socializing in the Pavillion or around campfires before the heavy rain began.
Training Plan C was executed Sunday morning and we gathered beneath the Pavillion. Ropes were fed through pulleys rigged from the rafters and attached to brake bar racks through which rope could be fed for climbers to ascend or descend continuously. Skills practiced included ascending, descending, changeovers, climbing on prusik knots, climbing on a system of parts (someone hands you pieces and you figure out how to climb and descend with them), etc. My parts were an adjustable foot loop on a Petzl handled ascender, a spring loaded Gibbs rope grab, a non-locking carabiner and a prusik which I held in reserve. This was also a great opportunity to practice building anchors and hauling and lowering systems, and running those systems. Instructors were available to sign off on student skill sheets and we were able to accomplish almost as much as we could have on the Rock but for the weather.
It was another week-end of fantastic training and everyone returned home safely. I strongly encourage anyone seeking an opportunity to learn or practice technical rope rescue skills to take advantage of Black Diamond’s warm hospitality. There will be one more session this season on September 10-11 and all are welcome. Next year the same training will occur the second week-ends of June-September.
See you on the Rock! Doc
- All quiet of the Western front. A couple of us responded to dispatch for the two callouts, but enough resources were on hand
- Jason Benjamin – Oak Ridge Fire Captain, Swiftwater instructor, technicial rescue instructor, rescue swimmer instructor, and stuntman/stunt coordinator
- BUSAR is celebrating it’s 1 Year Anniversary!!
- Finishing up most of the technical classes of the summer and transitioning back into manway trips for the fall