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Rope Rescue highline course
Whilst much of the state was concentrating on bushfires, two of CFA’s rope rescue instructors (SSO Daryl Owen and LFF Brad Trewavis) attended the “Ropes that Rescue” advanced instructors course at Mt.Arapilies near Horsham.
The 7 day course concentrated on complex rigging systems and high lines in a wilderness environment.
These systems included the rescuing of patients using a stretcher and constructing high directionals along with high-lines (similar to a flying fox, but for rescue loads) to make access to and rescue a person. The construction and operation of high-lines is an inherently dangerous activity, working on the edge of cliffs hundreds of meters high and applying significant forces on the anchoring systems.
SSO Daryl Owen said “This course is conducted in Australia only once every 5 years and we are grateful that Bangholme Training campus has provided the ability for us to attend and bring back a range of skills and learning’s to all CFA districts through our continued delivery of rope rescue training.”
Whilst in CFA we do not specifically teach high-lines, these roping systems are very similar to those used in Swift water rescue operations, but much higher and much longer. The lessons learnt on this course have been very valuable and increase CFA’s technical rescue skills as we deliver these findings to our rope rescue members.
The course was conducted by ‘Ropes That Rescue’ (Arizona, USA) and ‘Fire & Rescue Australia Training’ (Adelaide, South Australia) and included participants from MFB (Melbourne), MFS (Adelaide), ACTFR (Canberra), NSWFR (Sydney) and rope access industry personnel from as far away as Perth. All the participants worked very well together and the course was a superb way to build and reinforce relations with other agencies and industry groups in a rescue environment. In the past two years CFA, MFB and SES technical rescue instructors have worked closer than ever before and this is a great opportunity for CFA.
Instructor Reed Thorn from ‘Ropes that Rescue, Arizona’ said “hats off to ALL you Aussies! This was THE most amazing Advanced Skills Rescue Workshop certainly for Australia and perhaps for the USA as well (I have been running them there for about 20 years now and only three in AUS).”
“With the course being conducted in the Wimmera in the middle of January, with 12hour days was a challenge. We commenced work on one TFB Day at 0430hrs, to be completed by 1400hrs to avoid the heat of the day” SSO Owen said.
One of the drills was to construct a high-line and lower a rescuer and patient, this was the longest known high-line constructed in Australia at 380m long and 180m above the campground below. A special order was placed to Sterling ropes to supply a 400m rope for the occasion. Many rock climbers and campers commented that it was great to see the emergency services training in such terrain and in such techniques, giving them piece of mind that help was available. We also used this opportunity to promote that CFA is not just about bushfires but also the all year round hazards of rescue events. One climber said “I have been rescued before so thank you for all the work you do…… and I’ll probably be rescued again”.