Working on the Horizon Line: Seeing What Lurks Below Requires a Higher Vantage Point

Written By: Lance Piatt

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The Story

For a long time you were the lone wolf.  Making decisions about life and your team’s future and basing the decisions off of what you thought would be best… without much input from others.

We’ve all been in that place and now… we need to rethink how we are making decisions and planning for our future and those affected by our planning.  Advisory boards are a great way to go about things… Rigging Lab Academy community is a great place to start and one of those places to start is your “horizon line”.

The call comes in and a little girl has fallen and cracked her head open.  Her friend, the RP, is freaking out and when the location is given, you know of the place but have never been there.  Once at the scene, you look across the horizon line and realize… you don’t “really” have a way to get her across and down the steep rocky terrain (without help).

 

 

The Problem

You are faced with a decision… backboard her and evac here via a litter carry Class 2 or  evac her using tools you think you have but haven’t trained for.  A tracking or guiding line down the steep face.  Problem though!…

  1. You haven’t trained much for this and
  2. Your departure point is non-existent.  You need to make a decision.

Air Life has an LZ at the base and she is in critical condition, but you can’t really get here down.  You start the litter carry out and order the ERT to meet you on the trail.  

OK… let’s reverse this with some 20-20 hindsight! We need to address a few things first.

  1. Myopic Vision (open the Aperture)
  2. Lack of Pro-Active Training (Vision)
  3. No Forward Thinking (Advice from those who know better)
  4. Missing The Proper Tools To Get The Job Done (Get the right tools and training)
The Fix

So what are horizontal systems and why an AHD? This link will take you to the very videos that will touch on this, but suffice it to say (and as seen in this image)… without a high directional to get the patient off the deck and past the critical point of departure, you need an “elevated high point”.  Can you image doing this at ground level?

Now, I want to throw in something before we get to far… Most people and teams that have not “bought” into the AHD vision are you might be behind the “8 ball” and the main reason for this is education.  It isn’t so much ignorance (ignoring the obvious) is about juggling of “things to do”.  We just get overwhelmed at the immense amount of training needed to get our teams fitted properly.

We have all heard about SSSF (static system safety factor).  This is the calculated force on the “system” prior to implementation.  The figure assumes the system’s greatest weak link.    DSSF (dynamic system safety factor) judges the rigging system during the operation and predicts the weakest link during the greatest moment of system stress.   NOTE: The biggest culprit of our personal stress (read… we need to be able to understand our own personal DSSF and train this portion of our soul (mind, emotions and thoughts).

The Decision

So, while I am not going to get into the nuts and bolts about all of this, as we have entire courses on this stuff… I am going to say that most of the nightmares we face are in our own minds and without an advisory board to help us sift through things, we are stuck with our own “made up drama”.

The first of two thoughts.

  1. Not everything off the ground is a highline.
  2. Because most solutions don’t need highlines, the other solutions are much much safer.

Horizontal systems do include highlines but also include what are called Offsets. These offsets use a few variations or configurations.

  1.  Taglines
  2. Guidelines
  3. Tracklines
  4. Skate Blocks
  5. Deflections
  6. 2 Rope Systems
Successfully Managed

Again, we have tons of courses and videos on this stuff...  but they all have one tool in common.  An AHD, like the TerrAdaptor (Artificial High Directional) Portable Anchor System. Yes, there are numerous types of AHDs between foreign and US domestic designs.

I would love to have this image sink for a moment. Our rescuer, thus the patient, is well below the edge. Our high point is running through the Terradaptor AHD, thus mitigating the edge trauma and the associated nightmare that comes from having edge attendants “vector” the rescuer and possibly the patient up and over the edge.

The obvious point of reference here is the elevated high point.  This is super simple once a few things are understood.

Basic concepts an AHD technician must understand… know worries, this is pretty easy stuff as when explained in sequence and purpose.  Again… we have you covered here.

  • Force Vectors
  • Resultants
  • Effects of the above two on an elevated system

So the image to the right is a snapshot of our rescuer, having already gone over the edge, on his way down to the patient below.  Can you image the friction forces at work here if the Terradaptor AHD was not in place?  Geez!!!! HUGE!!!  Rich Delaney did a course on friction and these forces are enormous.  Talk about setting yourself up for a complete disaster.

You’ll notice the back-ties and level (height) of the Gin Pole head (relative to Tom Woods). Just high enough to get the job done and no higher.  When Trask (and simulated patient) were brought up, it was pure butter.  Smooth and Simple.

The force loads, as measured by an EnForcer were minimal. The entire system with 2 people took less than 30 minutes.  Granted, anchor placements were everywhere, so the guying systems were not a problem.

You have a ton of options and advice on where to go and how to get there.

Get The Tools

You are also needing a tool to get this stuff accomplished. The Terradaptor is that tool.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So before we finish up here, take a look at this trailer for the Horizontal Rigging Courses.  You’ll quickly note there are a ton of things happening and I am positive you’ve seen these challenges with your own missions and call outs

Peace on your days…
Lance

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