Seeing The Obvious Before It’s Obvious: Developing A Critical Mind In Rigging For Rope Rescue In 7 Easy Steps

Written By: Lance Piatt

Everyone has seen crazy heroics in movies right?  Yet, most (strangely enough) don’t ask ” how is that actually done”?  We know that often, movies use CG to do a lot of the work right?  Well, not all of it. Much of the work done with movies like 127 Hours, or Vertical Limit, K2, Eiger Sanction, Cliffhanger or North Face all have some pretty heroic “vertical” scenes.  Again, yes… most of it was done in a studio, but not all of it and even then… the work was done at height.

This got me pondering about the bridge between critical thought and creativity.  What does that look like in our community and industry.  How does preparation interface with planning and planning with the force of creation.

So 5 people show up on scene.  The patient has fallen 100′ down a scree slope and is lodged at the bank of the river.  The best way out is up and over the embankment.  The problem though is the highway is on the opposite of the river.  There is a skanky foot bridge down a half mile.  The IC looks at you and makes the decision… you are now leading the rigging team from ground level.

Shocked, you are hoping the IC doesn’t notice your face, flushed,  all the blood leaving and you’re getting really light headed, as you aren’t sure you are prepared to accomplish this… but you agree; Because you need to save face as you just had a conversation with director of team letting him know you are ready to step it up and would like more responsibility and authority.

Noticing you have a few moments to collect your thoughts, you find a safe place to simply crouch down, close your eyes and vision out (clearly) what needs to happen.  Your mind reels back a few weeks ago…  past the conversations with the team’s director, to where you now engaged in a 5 day course on Developing Your Critical Thinking and Creativity.  This workshop was suggested to you by a local businessman who also happens to be a leading and prominent person with the SAR team.

The course solidified your understanding that critical thinking is a mode of thinking, about any subject, content or problem, by skillfully analysing, assessing, and reconstructing it.  You also got stimied when you found out that simply practicing enough and spending time in the right environment… your new skills don’t just automatically appear.  What?

Here are the 7 Critical Thinking Steps that you are now implementing into your team’s Standard Operating Procedures and why your IC asked you to lead your team.

  1. Evaluating claims: All background assumptions and logic must be evaluated first.
  2. Analyzing inferences: Even if a claim is correct, the formal logic might be accurate, the methods to accomplish the claim might not be.
  3. Weighing decisions: It comes down to trade-offs.  Running logic through a filter will always be beneficial.
  4. Analyzing problems: Characterizing problems allows focus.
  5. Facilitating discovery: This process includes hypotheses, predictions and interpretations of date (This is the start of Creativity)
  6. Solving problems: Creative thinking solves problems.
  7. Creating product, processes and services: Building systems (compression and tension forces alike) all require an “arts and economic’ acumen.

OK… so now what?  Well, all this “stuff” (and doing it) develops a greater capacity for critically thinking through problems and developing solutions and conversely, a failure to do so will do nothing more than continue the churn of mediocrity or a failure to successfully grow.

So here might be some examples of this…

  1. Evaluating the claims that you need to have 12.5mm rope for two person loads.  Doing the math will show this claim is false on multiple levels… how would you start the process?
  2. Analyzing inferences that 12.5mm rope is need because it is the only rope diameter that allows proper margins of safety.  This is both true and false.  Inappropriate systems would necessitate certain gear to be used in order to compensate inadequacies, so you now need to prove this… how?
  3. Weighing decisions with 12.5mm rope vs 11mm requires scales that are unequally based; the lesser of two systems could be the greater one.
  4. Analyzing problems requires character determination.  What may appear as notable, may in fact be mute and that which seems unnecessary can actually be a new world about to open.
  5. Facilitating discovery is the starting process of creativity…
  6. Solving problems requires a mix of art and science.  If the problem could be solved by simple “plug and play” measures, then it really isn’t a problem.
  7. Products, processes and services are a measure of stacking and building functionality into the creative process derived through the critical analysis… where you are vs where you need to be. Such that if 12.5mm rope was determined to be the only diameter acceptable, then you are doomed to the space where you are at.  However, if you determine that 12.5mm is an option you’d rather not be limited to, then other options, such as 11mm come with new rules to accomplish more than what is being asked of you.

Please note, we can install questions on pulley sheave diameters, prusiks vs toothed devices, increasing mechanical advantage and reducing man power vs reducing mechanical advantage and relying on brute force or… do we invest into “high help” vs the continuation of the V Strap method for negotiating the edge?

So the question I have for you is this?  Are you (first) interested in changing your paradigm?  Are you then willing to invest yourself and others into what might be a fascinating exploration into the unknown?

If the answer is yes… then be looking for our next blog on creativity for riggers and rescuers.  If the answer is no… then that is fine as well.  I would gather you are doing great with your systems and team based leadership and your future is solid without any changes for years to come.

Either way, we are excited to continue building and sharing great product for a great community.

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Peace on your Days…



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