Technical Rescue Research Topics

At ITRS 2012 surveys were given to all the participants, and the question was asked: “What technical rescue related research would you like to see performed?” The attendees requested that the answers to this question be posted on the ITRS web page so the responses could be reviewed in detail. Consequently, presented below are the responses to this question so readers can see what research topics are of interest to fellow rescuers in 2012.

Brief Caveat
There were 150 attendees at ITRS 2012, and 71 surveys were returned, which is a 47.3% return rate. As such, these results are a biased representation of the opinions and views of fellow rescuers since it is biased toward those attending ITRS, and those willing to fill out a one page (front and back) survey.

Responses were varied however some trends were evident so the results are presented by category for ease of analysis and assimilation. Under each category are individual responses from attendees cleaned up to improve grammar, spelling, and ease of comprehension.

1. How and why rescue techniques are learned.
2. How and why learned rescue techniques are retained long term.
3. How to improve teaching results and retention rates.
4. Efficacy of rope rescue instructional techniques.
5. How do new rescuers solve rigging problems when they do not have the needed equipment?
6. What are the experience levels of rescuers across disciplines and geography?
7. Why do some teams use tandem triple wrap prusiks for progress capture in haul systems?
8. Why do some teams use pulleys in tandem triple wrap prusik belays?
9. If an applied physics course for rigging was offered, would you attend it and pay for it, and what part of rope rescue would you want the class to cover?

Human Factors
1. The effects of a poorly trained team member on the safety and efficiency of the team.
2. All human factors.
3. Evaluation of the human element in system construction and operation.
4. Human factors during the operation of simple common rope rescue systems.
5. Human factors contributing to rigging errors.
6. Human error in general.
7. The conditions resulting in human errors.
8. Differences in post traumatic stress disorder in patients based on previous exposure to wilderness settings.

Human Body
1. What are the forces on a human body during a dynamic fall event using full systems.
2. Are the forces on the body during a full dynamic fall survivable?
3. What stresses can a human body take in various situations and different equipment?
4. Effects of loads on different portions of the human body.

1. Testing the ‘doctrine’ behind prusik use.
2. Testing myths about prusiks.
3. Slippage of tandem triple wrap prusiks.
4. Prusik testing using rope and cordage from different manufacturers.
5. Prusik strengths as anchors.
6. Dynamic prusik testing.
7. Breaking or slippage strength of prusiks.
8. During an edge attendant fall how well do Purcell prusiks slow and stop the fall?
9. During a fall, what are the rates of slowing for Purcell prusiks with different wrapping configurations?

1. Is a double bowline stronger than a single bowline.
2. More knot testing.

Ropes and cordage
1. Abrasion and minimum breaking strength testing on Paraloc ropes.
2. Dynamic rope testing.
3. Variations in rope strength due to different manufacturers.
4. Effects of various chemicals on ropes and other software.
5. Dynamic testing of cordage and rope.

1. Breaking strength tests on friction devices.
2. Breaking strength tests on descent control devices.
3. Testing new hardware as it becomes available.
4. Dynamic hardware testing.
5. Dynamic testing of gear.
6. The effects of dirt and wear on the force profile of an MPD.
7. Dynamic testing using Gibbs type rope grabs used to hold patient loads.

1. Belays other than prusiks.
2. Dynamic testing of belays.
3. Impact forces on belay system components (belay device, anchor) during dynamic events.

1. Anchors in the urban environment.
2. Urban structure anchors.
3. Ice screw behavior in aerated glacial ice.
4. Relative strength of ice anchors; screws, V thread, A thread, multipoint, etc.
5. Strength of alpine ice versus water ice for building anchors.
6. How to build better anchors.
7. More anchor testing.
8. More anchor pull tests.
9. Dynamic testing of webbing anchors.
10. Dynamic anchor testing.
11. Additional testing of natural anchor options.
12. Forces at anchors during a dynamic fall.

1. Effects of friction from ground contact on raising systems.
2. Research in to fire service related technical rescue systems.
3. Testing new systems as they are developed.
4. Advance swift water rescue systems.
5. Develop a new technique for high volume vertical rescues (Ski lift or gondola rescue).
6. Dynamic testing of systems.
7. Full system dynamic testing (what fails first, does it matter?).
8. Stretch and tension between ropes in single and double rope tension systems.
9. The importance of load absorption in systems to determine what would be the best materials to use in different locations or applications (technora, spectra, dyneema).
10. The viability of using steel cable guy-lines as track lines in tower rescues.
11. The loads generated during low angle raises and lowers.
12. The efficiencies of systems built sequentially (e.g. Lower a rescuer to access patient, then build a haul, etc. The systems are built in stages, not all at once.).
13. System safety.
14. Are high strength tie offs necessary in high line operation?
15. Force measurements of system components during a fall over a 90 degree edge.
16. Effects of snow and ice on system operation.
17. Dynamic testing of real world scenarios.
18. Forces throughout a system during a dynamic event.
19. Real world scenario failure testing.

Escape Equipment
1. Firefighter bailout gear
2. Firefighter escape device set up and load testing

General interests
1. Explain why different breaking strengths are observed in hardware and software.
2. Probability of Detection tests in wilderness SAR in southeast Alaska.
3. Developing rescue techniques utilizing limited resources.
4. Minimal gear configurations to effect a rescue.
5. Ideas or rules of thumb that utilize fuzzy logic
6. Loads on different parts of webbing lashings for patients in litters during dynamic events.
7. Testing of long held assumptions.
8. Re-validation of some rigging rules of thumb (e.g. tree trunk diameter suitable for rigging, etc.)