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Monthly Company Drill - Ropes and Advanced Line Systems
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By Captain Joseph Motzer
November 19, 2023

For the November Company Drill our team took advantage of the circumstances of needing to retrieve a washed out buoy just above Blackrock Dam to practice how to safely approach a vessel or victim hung up on the top of a low head dam. Rescue scenarios involving low head dams are some of the most dangerous we can encounter in water rescue, due to the recirculating hydraulic located on the down stream side of the dam. Members first set up a tensioned high line system across the river several yards upstream from the buoy and then, using a pulley system, were able to "lower" a rescue sled and rescuers to the "victim". In a real life scenario, our rescue technicians would then transfer the victim into the rescue sled to return them safety to shore. In this case, they slipped a webbing harness over the buoy for the next portion of the operation, where they utilized a 3 to 1 mechanical advantage system added on to the initial high line to first bring the buoy and anchor back up stream (to free it of whatever underwater obstruction it was hung up on) and then haul the buoy back into shore. When dealing with the force of moving water, mechanical advantage is often needed to move objects even when manpower is present.


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