A POWERFUL TEAM OF TWO (and one interpreter)


As written by volunteer/trainer Mike DeLeo

MEDICO’s mission sometimes reaches beyond its general medical brigades. MEDICO is about making lives better in big and small ways. MEDICO is about saving lives. Read about MEDICO’S recent mission of training firefighters whose goal is to provide protection for their community.

The City of Gracias, Lempira, Honduras, is served by the Firefighters “of Base or Company 30”. They are part of the larger Department of Lempira Cooperative Fire Protection Department. I was first introduced to the group when I assisted with a MEDICO EMS education project lead by Mike Moxness. For the past few years I have stayed in contact with Vincente Morales, a Sargent with the department and their lead trainer. When discussing possible training topics, we decided that, based on their location and delay in receiving additional resources, that a course on rope rescue could be beneficial. We were also joined by local mountain guides that would also be called upon to assist the fire department in any extended type rescue or widespread emergency.

Day 1: Basic rope rescue safety, equipment overview – Maintenance, care, inspection and record keeping. Knot review and practice, anchor building, Stokes basket harness lashing / patient packaging and Mechanical advantage theory and construction.

Day 2: Low angle rescue – How to safely access, package and raise or lower multiple patients from the bottom of an embankment or slope utilizing mechanical advantage main line and a tandem prusik belay line. Application: Accident with difficult access due to terrain features.

Day 3: High angle lowering and raising – access and retrieval of the difficult patient. Introduction to the Rack Mariner Pulley system (RPM). Ladder Slides. Application: Accessing patients that have fallen or are stuck mid-wall in a vertical environment and must be transferred to a main and safety line for further lowering or raising.

Day 4: Urban rescue techniques – utilization of fire-ground ladders for access and high point anchors to lower multiple patients and rescuers from multiple stories rapidly. Ladders used as stretchers for traversing long distances and moving over multi-level collapse zones. A-frame ladder constructions for high point single person load lowering and retrieval. Application: Earthquake Building collapse with multiple patients needing extrication over debris field or from upper levels of multi-story units. Multi-story commercial property fire or other normal egress compromised.

Day 5: Scenarios – putting skills learned throughout the week into practical application. Scenarios presented by instructors, solutions and rescues made by student groups.

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