High Angle Rescue
Duluth is rugged and rocky. There are ledges, outcroppings, and cliffs everywhere. You'll find them in parks,
neighborhoods, and along the Lakewalk. Some rock formations you've viewed many times; others are well-hidden and
difficult to access. Every year, people traverse Duluth's challenging terrain. And, every year, people get hurt.
Sometimes it's a cyclist or skater losing control and going over an embankment. Other times it's an amateur hiker
or climber stuck on a ledge. A rescue may involve people who are intoxicated or experiencing medical problems. The
calls for help run the gamut.
High angle rescue is technical and unforgiving. Nationally, there are countless examples of well intentioned but
untrained responders being trapped, injured or killed (along with the victim) during a botched rescue. In the past,
rope rescue equipment consist of natural fiber rope and brute strength. Victims and rescuers were raised or lowered
with a belt or loop around the waist. Ropes were stiff and knots were difficult to tie. Safety was more of an
afterthought, limited by the knowledge and tools of the day.
As more advanced techniques and equipment came west from mountain rescue schools, the fire department adopted safer
and more effective ways to assist people in high angle situations. Today's equipment is adaptable to a variety of
tasks. Firefighters now wear a full-body harness when performing a rescue. Mechanical advantage use has also
changed. The 1:1 "tug-o-war" method of hauling has been abandoned. Pulleys, carabiners, and anchor points with
safeties are now the norm. 4:1 rigging is common and pre-set in rescue packs for quick deployment. High angle
equipment is kept on 8 Truck, Rescue 1, and 4 Quint for coverage throughout the city.
To rescue people safely and efficiently the fire department trains on high angle rescue regularly. Firefighters are
tested on a variety of knots, riggings, and rope load limitations. They must also demonstrate a basic understanding
of physics. Hands-on work - rappelling, raising and lowering victims, and hauling techniques - is practiced at the
department's training tower at Station #1 or in the field. All rope rescue equipment is inspected and maintained