What are the three keys to successful technical rescue? Simplicity, Sunscreen, and Safety Glasses. But mostly Simplicity. There is a glaring bias toward complexity in today’s rescue service, particularly in rope rescue. As rescue technology has exploded in recent years, so has the belief that using all the technology available is necessary in each scenario. Simple rescues are complicated with complex rigging, often in the name of making the rescue “easier” or “safer.” Unfortunately, this accomplishes neither, as complex systems require more effort to rig and increased complexity provides an exponential increase in opportunities for system component failure.
Ultimately, the rescue service has forgotten the mission, and so have many of the organizations training rescue personnel. Our goal is casualty survival, which is best guaranteed through prompt delivery to advanced medical care. Recent “advances” in trauma EMS care have actually taken the appropriate steps backward to focus on minimal field care in exchange for rapid delivery to surgery. Technical Rescue needs to take a hard look in the mirror and do the same thing. Are artificial high directionals useful kit? Absolutely. Are highlines fun to rig with your rope nerd friends? Sure. But neither are absolutely necessary for the vast majority of rescues, and yet trainers spend an inordinate amount of time on them, translating to training scars that rescuers believe these tools must be used for otherwise simple rescues. Remember the mission. True mastery of technical rescue should be measured not by the complexity of your systems, but the simplicity.
Finally, wear sunscreen and safety glasses. I was too cool for them both myself, but severe sunburns and several ER trips for corneal abrasions later, they are standard kit. Keep it simple folks. Tim Anderson