Rope rescue is a subset of technical rescue that involves the use of static nylon kernmantle ropes, anchoring and belaying devices, friction rappel devices, various devices to utilize mechanical advantage for hauling systems, and other specialized equipment to reach victims and safely recover them.
Three primary categories of rope rescue exist: high angle urban/structural, wilderness/mountain rescue, and cave rescue. There are significant differences between each in both technique and equipment. As a rule, urban rope rescue involves heavier equipment and is of relatively short duration. Cave and wilderness rope rescue involves lighter equipment with extended rescue times. Although there is significant overlap in techniques and concepts, the two skill sets are not considered interchangeable. What works in an urban environment may not work in a wilderness environment and vice versa.
In the USA, urban/structural rope rescue performed by professional rescue agencies such as EMS or fire departments is addressed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) regulation 1670, and certain disciplines such as confined space rescue may also be addressed by 29 CFR 1910.146 and 29 CFR 1910.147. In most cases, wilderness rope rescue is not specifically covered by such mandates (except in the case where the wilderness rescue is carried out by professional organizations that are otherwise covered).
Rescue should not be attempted by individuals who have not been formally trained. Local rescue authorities may be able to provide information on rope rescue training, practice, and equipment. Courses that are helpful are Heavy Rescue Technician, Rope Rescue Technician, Trench Rescue Technician, Confined Space Rescue Technician, Hazardous Materials Technician, and Swiftwater Rescue Technician.
NFPA regulation 1006 and 1670 state that all "rescuers" must have medical training to perform any technical rescue operation, including cutting the vehicle itself during an extrication. Therefore, in most all rescue environments, whether it is an EMS Department or Fire Department that runs the rescue, the actual rescuers who cut the vehicle and run the extrication scene or perform any rescue such as rope, low angle, etc., are Medical First Responders, Emergency Medical Technicians, or Paramedics, as almost every rescue has a patient involved.
Rescue Technician: Operational Readiness for Rescue Providers, edited by Claire Merrick, for the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute; Mosby, Inc., St. Louis, Mo.; 1998.
- Cave Rescue
- Rescue squad
- Emergency Medical Services
- 911th Engineer Company (Technical Rescue)
- Multnomah County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue
- Marin County Sheriff's Office Search & Rescue
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