Tricks of the Trade

One of the unfortunate short-comings of the U.S. fire and rescue services is the lack of central location for information and media on tools, techniques, and tactics. Standing around 1.2 million firefighters strong, much information remains in cliques, fringe groups, regionalized, or even within a select few organizations. It is almost tragic, that there is not a one-stop resource for all things under a fire-rescue related topic. In my rescue circles, I have found my “go-to” resources of information. Rope rescue for example- as big a topic as rope rescue is, at its heart- there are relatively few authors, instructors, and innovators putting out original content. From the 1980s to now, there are probably less than two dozen names of noteworthy recognition. Even a smaller group of those have a fire-rescue background. We have put together a video below discussing this very topic as well as an included trick of the trade we picked up along the way.

If I were to start with all things rope, I would first gather around six or more major texts. Then I would start sorting through periodicals at the National Emergency Training Center Learning Resource Center(LRC). The LRC at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg MD, is the closest thing to a centrally located library for the fire service. They have a host of librarians that offer research assistance and will be happy to copy or send you material on interlibrary loan. You can search the library through their website. This would yield periodicals dealing with rope rescue such as Fire Rescue Magazine, Fire Engineering, Technical Rescue Magazine, the National Speleological Society Vertical Section, and old NASAR publications.

These sources have some great authors and will show you the history of modern rescue. But if you really want to geek-out and get in the weeds- you have got to study the material coming out of the International Technical Rescue Symposium(ITRS). Here you can study many works from the O.G.s of rescue. Dill, Larson, Hudson, Frank, Thorne, Vines, Mauthner, Smith, Padgette, and more all reside here. This annual symposium is limited to 150 participants, has 15-20 presenters, and it is here that information and research gets its peer-reviewed acid test before it goes mainstream. In order to take your research beyond this level, you probably have to talk to the “original gangstas” themselves or perform original research on your own. . .

SurveyThere is a huge need to capture some of this institutional knowledge before key organizational members hang up their gear for the last time. Regional barriers that prevent the spread of life-saving information must be overcome. We need platforms to share a disseminate tools, techniques, and tricks of the trade. One of these areas that seems very regionalized is heavy rescue. What is a trick that makes your life easier and no one seems to know about it, but your team? Do you have method for running a breaching tool that saves time and maintenance? Is there a new tool that you found closes a capability gap? Have you learned new tricks from an old tool- such as the Griphoist? As US&R teams immerse themselves in flood and swiftwater rescues, do you have a lesson that can save future lives? We want to collect these ideas from all walks of technical rescue and share it with the community. Fill out all the information in the Training Bulletin survey and share with others. We will take top tips and post them here on BoxalarmTraining. Additionally, we are looking for tips and trick that could be share with the National US&R System. If pertinent and valuable, your content could appear in classes or the US&R Field Operations Guide(FOG). We may contact you for more pictures or clarifications. Credit will be given and cited and intellectual property will be honored. We are looking to foster a since of sharing of rescue knowledge- especially when seconds and lives matter.

About Russell McCullar

Russell is a Senior Instructor with the Mississippi State Fire Academy. His responsibilities include the management of NFPA 1006 Rescue Programs. Russell is a Rescue Specialist and Technical Search Specialist with the FEMA US&R System. His firefighting and rescue career began with the Lafayette County Fire Department in Oxford, MS, as a volunteer firefighter, where he ascended to the rank of Station Captain. As a career firefighter with the Batesville Fire Department, he rose to the rank of Station Lieutenant before his departure in 2010. In 2009, he earned his Masters Degree in Homeland Security at the University of Mississippi where he also received a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management in 2005. Over a fourteen-year career, he maintains certificate training in excess of 3000 hours and over 2000 hours of instruction in technical rescue. Russell spends his time instructing other rescuers from Mississippi and around the country. He resides in Brandon, Mississippi with his wife, Sydney.

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