Your source for low angle rescue training and equipment


              The rope has been an essential tool in patient rescue for time immemorial.  With the development of increasingly sophisticated ropes, rescue equipment, and techniques, training and standards have come to focus on the high end, high sophistication practice of high angle rope rescue.  While the value of a properly trained, experienced, and expert high angle rescue team should never be minimized, this focus has left a void in the area of low angle rescue. 

Low angle rescue, in fact, generally lacks a definition other than one of exclusion: any rope rescue that isn’t high angle.  NFPA general considers it to be rescue in “an environment in which the load is predominantly supported by itself and the the rope rescue system (e.g. flat land or mild sloping surface)” ( “Low Angle” in “Chapter 3: Definitions” NFPA 1670: Standard on Operations and Training for Technical Search and Rescue Incidents 2009 Ed) .  While NFPA 1006:Standards for Technical Rescuer Professional Qualifications 2008 Ed. does discuss low angle rescue, the major focus of “Chapter 6: Rope Rescue” remains on high angle rescue.   The same is true for  NFPA 1670: Standard on Operations and Training for Technical Search and Rescue Incidents 2009 Ed. 

Unfortunately, the ambiguity of definition and incorporation of low angle rescue operations into high angle rescue operations and not as a separate discipline means that many rescuers simply don’t use rope as a tool for increasing the convenience or safety of moving a patient; rescuers forget that there are certain classes of rope operations that can be performed without all the bells, whistles, and trappings of a full high angle rescue operation (and without all the additional training that is applicable on to high angle operations).

In addition, the lack of a definition of low angle rescue means that there has never been a uniform approach to teaching the practice and application of low angle rescue.  This in turn leads to rescuers taking unnecessary and often unrecognized risks with patients’ (and their own) lives.  Rescuers can usually recognize when a rope obviously doesn’t need to be used.  They can also usually identify a high angle rescue situation.  But the gray situations, the “No problem, we can just carry the backboard 20 feet up this 25o slope” scenarios, are the ones when rescuers fail to recognize the true amount of risk they expose themselves and patients to.

Does this matter?  Since no one really identifies low angle rescues as separate from any other rope rescues, no statistics are available to tell us how widespread they are.  In addition, it is impossible to track the near-misses, the cases where some simple low angle technique would have made an operation much safer.  Nonetheless, we believe the following:  that low angle rescue is OR SHOULD BE the most commonly used rope rescue technique.   From moving a hyper-obese patient down a flight of stairs to moving a backboarded patient up an embankment and everything in between, simple low angle techniques can vastly improve operational safety and convenience. 

It is for this reason that we have brought together a group of experienced rescue personnel to combine knowledge, talent and experience to produce a series of classes on low angle rescue.  This is our contribution to the health and safety of patients and public safety providers  everywhere.  We hope you enjoy learning through this program as much as we enjoyed developing it.

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Low Angle Rescue