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man undergoing rope rescue

What is Rope Rescue?

If you are interested in learning rope rescue or becoming a certified member of a certified rope rescue team, it helps first to learn the basics of what rope rescue is, where rope rescue is best utilized, and the basic components and tools used for safer and more successful rescue outcomes. 

Read on to learn the basics about rope and rescue so you can hit the ground running with your training.

What is Rope Rescue?

Rope Rescue Defined

Rope rescue refers to any rescue attempt that relies on ropes and rope-related equipment to safely remove the trapped party from a location with a confined space entry. Rope rescue teams are highly trained and skilled in this specific type of rescue and must complete specific rope rescue training courses before attempting a rescue mission.

man undergoing rope rescue

Rope rescue is used in many emergencies with limited or confined entry spaces by firefighters and emergency land and water rescue crews. Places where rope rescue is helpful includes buildings, cliffs, ships, caves, and other areas where an individual must be raised or lowered by rope rescue teams.

Rope Rescue Tools

Rope rescue tools include rescue and arborist climbing gear like pulleys, carabiners, ascenders, figure-8 with ears, triangular screw links (tri links), climbing webbing, accessory cord, and several kinds of ropes. No one rope is ideal for all rope and rescue applications, and there are several modern-day rope products used to meet the unique needs of every mission. Here is a list of popular ropes that rescue crews rely on in various situations:

Nylon Rope

Nylon rope is a high-strength rope with good abrasion, caustic, and UV resistance. Nylon rope loses 10% strength when wet and regains strength when dry. Nylon rope can also handle shock loading. Nylon rope melts at temperatures between 480°F-500°F.

Polyester Rope

Polyester rope is lower in strength than nylon but has better resistance to acids than nylon rope. Polyester rope offers good abrasion and UV resistance but can be affected by caustics. Polyester rope also melts at 480°F.

Spectra Rope

Spectra rope is a high-strength rope offering good UV and abrasion resistance and resistance to most chemicals. Spectra rope melts at 300°F and loses strength in temperatures above 150°F.

Kevlar Rope

Kevlar rope is a high strength but has poor abrasion resistance and shock loading capabilities. Kevlar rope does not handle sharp bends well. It does have good electrical insulation and can reach 600°F before charring.

When choosing land or water rescue rope, always follow NFPA rope rescue recommendations and the recommendations specified by your institution.

Important Characteristics of Rescue Rope

Rope Construction & Stretch

Aside from the type of rope used, rope construction type also matters, specifically in the amount of stretch the rope allows. The amount of stretch of your rescue rope depends on the particular mission at hand. For instance, static rope offers low stretch, a desirable attribute in most rescue applications with a fall factor of 1 or less. Dynamic rope, which offers high stretch capabilities, is desirable in rope rescue missions with high fall factors.

man checking ropes for rescue

Rope Working Load

According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Rope Rescue Training Course, rescue ropes should have a working load of at least 300 pounds for one person and 600 pounds for two people. Minimum breaking strength should not be less than 4,500 pounds for one person and 9,000 for two people.

man in the middle of rope rescue

Rope Rescue Knots

There are a variety of knots used in rope rescue, including figure-8 knot, figure-8 on a bight, figure 8 follow-through knot, clove hitch, munter hitch, double fisherman’s knot, bowline, butterfly knot, and prusik knots.

rope tied for rope rescue

Make Every Mission A Safe & Successful One With SGT KNOTS

As you advance in your training, SGT KNOTS has the high-quality, trusted ropes and rope rescue tools rescue crews count on for safe and successful land and water rescue missions of all kinds. 

Browse SGT KNOTS today to learn more about the differences between different rope products and rope construction designs or to try your hand at knot tying with our rope knot tutorials. You can also stay in the loop with all new blog posts, knot tutorials, and product releases when you follow SGT KNOTS on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook!

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