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The purpose of this document is to efficiently and safely show the proper way to perform
an emergency medical rescue on a static belay high ropes course.

This instructional document is designed to be taught to people that are in the process of
being high ropes course certified to be facilitators and maintainers of a static belay high
ropes course. However, the instructions are detailed enough that someone who has no
climbing or high ropes course experience is able to understand them and perform the
rescue. (It is not recommended that a person attempts to perform a high ropes rescue of
any sort without being fully trained and experienced in climbing and working a high
ropes course.)

Prior knowledge needed to understand these instructions include terminology of

equipment and climbing techniques and although first hand experience is not needed, it
would be helpful. A list with visual examples of all the equipment used and definitions of
the terminology is presented on pages two, three, and four.

The rescue procedure is designed to be done quickly with only one rescuer needed. The
entire procedure from start to finish should only take two to three minutes. It would be
more time efficient if two rescuers were used, one on the ground belaying and the other
on the high ropes element performing the rescue, but two rescuers may not always be
available so it is best to learn how to perform the rescue using only one rescuer. If the
procedure is followed precisely then the only error that could happen is a gear

Warnings: Do not make mistakes while performing this rescue or else death or serious
injury may occur to you and the person you are rescuing. All warnings will be bolded
and italicized throughout text.
Cautions: Sometimes a rescue situation is more complicated than it looked like at first by
means of equipment trouble/failure or the climber is having a panic attack or is in shock.
Be prepared with all the proper equipment before you go up and have ground supervision
for a second pair of eyes on the situation for extra warnings of any unexpected obstacles.
All cautions will be italicized throughout text.

This method of rescue is only for seriously injured or impaired climbers who are unable
to climb back down by themselves. There are other forms of simpler rescues that require
less preparation and urgency that would be used for a climber who simply cut themselves
or become scared and are unable to continue with the static belay high ropes course. This
method of emergency rescue could also be used on a dynamic belay high ropes course,
but would not be the most time efficient in most situations.

The rescue process can be broken into three steps from start to end. The order of
operation: recognizing the emergency, reaching the climber, and making the rescue.

Terminology and Equipment for Making a Rescue on a High Ropes Course

Definitions of Terms Used on a High Ropes Course

• Belay – act of securing a person by attaching one end of a rope to them and
having the other end of the rope attached to a stable point
such as another person (using a dynamic belay) or overhead
cable (static belay)
• Static Belay High Ropes Course (see fig. 1.1) – climbers
travel along high ropes elements using lobster claws (see
equipment section) attaching them to an overhead cable to
keep them from falling off the element at all, does not allow
the climber to “fall” off the element at all and they can finish
the entire course without ever restarting as they would with a
dynamic belay; used more often for beginners and elderly
because it takes less skill and balance than a dynamic belay;
meant to build a sense of self accomplishment and Fig. 1.1 Climber
confidence by pulling the climber out of their comfort zone attaching her static
and having them defeat what might have been a personal belay to overhead
obstacle in their life.
• Dynamic Belay High Ropes Course (see fig. 1.2) – climbers
travel along high ropes elements using a dynamic belay; requires more skill and
balance than static belay; allows climber to fall off edge of element and then
catches them immediately meant to build a sense of self
accomplishment, confidence, and encouragement between
group members by pulling the climber out of their comfort
zone and having them defeat what might have been a
personal obstacle in their life.
- Dynamic belay – belay that uses kernmantle rope
which allows for stretching; facilitator is on the ground
on one end of the rope with a belay device and tightens
and loosens the rope that the climber is attached to the
other end of up on the element. It is run through a pulley
system that is attached to an overhead cable that is run
above the entire element to serve as a safety device
keeping the climber from falling.
• Pulley System – a rolling pin pulley rolls on the overhead
cable and hanging below it is a fixed pin pulley attached by a
locking steel karabiner. The kernmantle rope runs through Fig. 1.2 Example of a
dynamic belay in use

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fixed pin pulley and one end goes to the facilitator and the other end goes to the
• Figure Eight Climbing Knot – the quickest to tie and safest climbing knot; this
knot is tied on the climbers end of the rope and a self-locking aluminum karabiner
is hooked into the loop of the knot and the loop on the climber’s harness
• Emergency Medical Rescue – any situation where a climber is seriously impaired
or injured to the point that they either do not respond or are physically unable to
climb down from the high ropes element and a facilitator must urgently climb up
and retrieve them
Ex: shock, heart attack, allergic reaction, panic attack, break of major bone, etc.
• Non-emergency Rescue – any situation where a climber becomes too afraid to
continue with the course and refuses to move and a facilitator is unable to talk
them down and is forced to climb up and retrieve them; not urgent (this happens
quite often)
• First Aid – emergency treatment given to an injured or sick person before
professional help is available, sometimes all a person needs is first aid and
professional help is not needed
• Climber – the untrained person that is up in the air on the elements
• Facilitator – the trained person that is supervising the climbers and making sure
they are safe and doing the elements properly
• Element (see fig. 1.3) – a single activity that a person does such as
walk across a beam that is typically anywhere from fifteen to forty
feet in the air while strapped into a safety device such as the static
belay; consists of two telephone poles, trees, or metal or wood
towers on each end to support the element and provide a way up to Fig. 1.3
it, there is some sort of short course in between the support poles that Balance Beam
is between ten and fifty feet long. Element
• Overhead Cable (see fig. 1.3) – professional grade aircraft cable that Top line is
runs the length above every element that either the climber connects overhead cable
his lobster claws to in a static belay or that the pulley system is set
up on in a dynamic belay to allow the climber to be held up on the element
• High Ropes Course - combination of both vertical challenges and horizontal
challenges; constructed from wood, cable, and ropes installed above the ground
and strung between trees, wood poles or steel framework; when individuals go up
on a ropes course there is a prime opportunity for them to learn about risk taking,
their own perceived limits, how they perform under pressure, and how they give
and receive support from other people

Equipment Needed During Rescue and Their Uses

• Static Rope (see fig. 1.4) – climbing rope used as

fixed rope that does not stretch and so does not
abrade easily when running over sharp edges, usually
8 or 9 mm in diameter Fig. 1.4 Static Rope with Figure
Eight Knot tied at the end

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• Kernmantle Dynamic Rope - modern climbing rope consisting of bundles of
continuous nylon filaments (kern) surrounded by a braided protective sheath
(mantle), stretches typically up to seven percent of its total
length, usually 10 to 11 mm in diameter
• Basic Harness (see fig. 1.5) – a strong belt made of nylon
webbing with leg loops used to secure the climber to the rope
and to provide storage space for equipment; has reinforced
loop at front middle of waist belt meant for attaching
• Auto-locking Aluminum Karabiner – gated, oval shaped piece Fig. 1.5 Basic Harness
of aluminum that serves as a connecting device; gate has an
automatic spring loaded lock so it locks itself when closed and
won’t come open; used in all situations except when in contact
with steel
• Locking Steel Karabiner (see fig. 1.6) – gated, oval shaped piece
of steel that serves as a connecting device; gate has a manual lock
so it won’t come open; use only when connecting something that
is also made of steel Fig. 1.6 Locking
• Lobster Claws (see fig. 1.7) – two strips of static rope with loops Steel Karabiner
on each end that have karabiners in each loop and is used as a safety device when
climbing vertically and when completing elements; one end of each rope is
attached to the climber’s harness while the other two free
separate ends connect to the overhead cable
• Climbing Knife – standard knife that is usually serrated and
has a hole in it so it can be hung from the harness by a
karabiner, used to cut an injured person’s rope when
performing a rescue if unable to take their rope off by
unhooking the karabiner Fig. 1.7 Lobster Claws
• Quickdraw (see fig. 1.8) - short piece of webbing with
karabiners on either side, used to pivot off a point on a log you are currently
climbing or hang/sit in your harness when both hands are needed to complete a
• Webbing - Flat and strong strip of nylon, used to hold two
karabiners together to make a quickdraw and sometimes
carried as an emergency short backup rope, most harnesses
are made out of webbing Fig. 1.8 Quickdraw
• Belay Device (see fig. 1.9) – device that facilitator uses to
create a friction point on the rope to be able to control the
speed of descent of the climber when lowering them on a
dynamic belay, also enables complete braking
• Polarized Sunglasses – sunglasses that take the glare off of
objects and prevent ultraviolet damage to your eyes Fig. 1.9 Belay
• Fixed Pin Pulley – hangs below the rolling pin pulley from a Device
steel karabiner and the kernmantle rope glides over the non-rolling wheel creating
a pivot point between the climber and facilitator that exists above the element

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• Rolling Pin Pulley (see fig. 1.10) – steel pulley with a rolling wheel
inside that rolls along the top of the overhead cable, rolling wheel
reduces friction between the pulley and cable to reduce risk of
breaking and injury

Recognizing the Medical Emergency on a Static Belay High Ropes Course Fig. 1.10
Pin Pulley
Purpose: In this section you will learn how to scan and recognize
the signs of a medical emergency. You will also learn the steps of
communicating the emergency to others in the area.

Scanning for Dangerous Situations

Many times when you are watching climbers on high ropes elements you will be
responsible for watching two or three elements at a time and must keep a close eye on
each climber on your elements. To help with scanning your climbers:

• Talk to climbers when they are up on the element to get feedback on how they are
doing. Ask them questions and be encouraging.
o If they respond with anything better than a “bad” then they are typically
doing okay. It’s normal to be nervous when you’re suspended thirty feet in
the air.
o If they don’t respond, begin watching them more closely because they are
more than likely terrified and about to freeze up which can lead to a panic
attack or heart attack if they have poor health.
• Watch climbers before they get up in the air to see who is overly anxious. Watch
the anxious ones closely.
o Watch elderly climbers closer than normal climbers. They’re health is
generally more at risk than younger climbers.
• Wear polarized sunglasses on sunny days.
• Always be watching the climbers. Ignore everything else around you unless you
think it might be a hazard to the ropes course and your climbers.

Signs that a Climber is in Need of an Emergency Rescue

If the climber shows any of the following signs, immediately begin the procedure of
an emergency medical rescue.

• Climber is not responsive verbally or physically when spoken to multiple times.

• Climber has gone limp and is not responsive.
o Will be hanging from lobster claws
• Climber begins convulsing.
• Climber lacks ability to move due to fracture of major bone
o Major bones - all bones excluding hands and feet unless they are
compound fractures

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• Climber is screaming/yelling uncontrollably and can not be calmed down.
o At high risk for panic attack and/or hyperventilation
• Climber is having an allergic reaction to something such as an insect sting.

Caution: Make sure and fully clarify that the situation is an emergency before taking
action. Be cautious about possibly emergencies, but do not overanalyze a situation and
create panic among other climbers because you made the decision too early to go up and
perform a rescue. Always talk to the injured climber enough to know for sure that they
need an emergency rescue.

Communicating the Circumstances and Directions to People around on the Ground

While performing an emergency medical rescue on a static belay high ropes course, a
certain atmosphere is needed to in order for the rescue go as quickly and safely as
possible. People on the ground around the scene can help you in small, but important
ways. While you are gathering your gear to perform the rescue, get everyone’s attention
and inform them that you are about to perform an urgent rescue. Proceed to give the
following instructions:

• Any climber on any other element must come down immediately.

• Everyone on the ground must remain quiet.
• Everyone on the ground needs to stay clear from underneath the element that the
rescue is taking place.
• Tell one person to call 911.
• Tell one person to get a nurse or doctor that is on the premises and bring them
back to the site of the rescue.
• Tell one person to continue to watch the injured or impaired climber and talk to
them, even if they are unconscious, while you climb and make the rescue up until
you tell the person to stop talking to them. This person should also tell you if
there are any significant changes in the injured climber’s behavior.
• Tell two people to cradle the injured climber when you get close to the ground
with him at the end of your descent so there is no chance that the injured climber
collapses on the ground hard.

Note: Remaining calm and professional, but still hurrying, throughout the entire rescue is
imperative to keep the group of people on the ground calm.

Reaching the Climber for a Medical Emergency Rescue

Purpose: In this section you will learn what equipment to use, how to climb up to
the element, how to set up the dynamic belay, and how to reach the injured
climber when performing an emergency medical rescue.

Gathering the Equipment for the Rescue

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You will need to have all the climbing gear needed for the rescue close by at all times
when climbers are on the elements. Having the right equipment is crucial because once
you are in the air, there is no going back down or you lose life saving time. The
equipment needed is:

• 1 - Harness (which you should already be wearing at all times when facilitating a
high ropes course)
• 1 - Quickdraw
• 1 - 120 ft. Kernmantle Rope (or longer)
• 1 - Rolling Pin Pulley
• 1 - Fixed Pin Pulley
• 1 - Locking Steel Karabiner
• 3 - Auto-locking Aluminum Karabiner
• 1 - Climbing Knife
• 1 - Lobster Claws
• 1 - Belay Device

When facilitating, keep all this equipment together in a bag and when it comes time to
use it, take it out of the bag and hook it onto your harness using the karabiners so you
won’t be sorting through a bag while you are hanging fifty feet in the air. This also
ensures that you have everything you need and there wasn’t something missing in the
bag. Go ahead and place the rolling pin pulley and fixed pin pulley on the steel karabiner
so it will be ready to be placed onto the overhead cable quickly. Drape the kernmantle
rope over your head, on top of your shoulder, and under the opposite shoulder’s arm.

Climbing Up to the Element

Climbing up to the element to reach the injured climber

involves either climbing a wooden pole, tree, or steel
framework. Regardless what you are climbing, you will need
to use your lobster claws for this task to lock onto the pole
for safety as you climb. There will be what look like large
staples sticking out of the pole, as you climb up these large
staples, you will snap the lobster claws into one staple above
the staples your hands are occupying. Think of it as having
four arms and the karabiner on each end of the two arms of
the lobster claws are your other two hands. (See fig. 2.1)

Fig. 2.1 A facilitator properly

using lobster claws to climb a
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Setting up the Dynamic Belay on the Overhead Cable

Once you have reached the top of the wooden pole, you will have reached the
overhead cable and must set up the dynamic belay on the overhead cable. You will need
the following:

• Quickdraw
• Fixed Pin Pulley
• Rolling Pin Pulley
• Locking Steel Karabiner
• Kernmantle Rope
• Belay Device
• 2 Auto-locking Aluminum Karabiners

Steps for Setting up the Dynamic Belay

1. Hook yourself onto the pole with your quickdraw so you don’t have to hold onto
the pole.
2. Take the rolling pin pulley off of the locking steel karabiner that is on your
harness, slide the sides of the rolling pin pulley apart and place the wheel over the
cable with the holes below the cable. Then close the sides around the cable.
Continue holding the pulley or else it will fall off the cable. (see fig. 3.1)
3. With the other
hand, take
the locking
steel karabiner
that has the
fixed pin
pulley on it
off of your
harness and
place the
steel karabiner
through the
Fig. 3.1 Place the rolling pin pulley over the top of the overhead cable and swing of the
the sides back down around the cable rolling
pulley. (see fig. 3.2 on next page)
4. Lock the locking steel karabiner by screwing the bolt up tightly until the karabiner
is a securely closed oval.

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5. Take the kernmantle rope off your shoulder and take one end of the rope and feed
it through the fixed pin pulley. (see fig. 3.3 on next page)

6. While
holding onto
the end you
just fed
through the
pulley, drop
the rest of the
rope to the
7. With the end
that you just

Fig. 3.2 Placing the locking steel Fig. 3.3 Feed the kernmantle
karabiner through the holes of the rope through the fixed pin
rolling pin pulley pulley

through the pulley, tie a figure eight climbing knot.

(see fig. 3.4 – 3.7 for instructions on how to tie a
figure eight climbing knot)

8. Once the figure eight knot is tied, place two auto-

locking aluminum karabiners in the loop of
the figure eight knot.
9. Hook one of the two aluminum karabiners from the
loop of the figure eight knot onto the reinforced loop of
your harness.
10. With the other side of the rope that is right next to
you (not the other end of the rope), hook up your belay

Fig. 3.4 Step 1 of tying Fig. 3.5 Step 2 of tying Fig 3.6 Step 3 of tying Fig. 3.7 Step 4
a figure eight knot a figure eight knot a figure eight knot of tying a figure
eight knot

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Fig. 3.8 Bend kernmantle rope and push through Fig 3.9 Push kernmantle rope all the way beyond
large hole of belay device the belay device
device on the rope. (see fig. 3.8 - ____ for instructions on how to set up a belay

11. Hook the karabiner on the

belay device onto the
reinforced loop of your

Dynamic Belaying Yourself to the

Injured Climber

Now that you have set up the entire dynamic belay and have hooked yourself into it,
you are ready to make your way out to the injured climber.

Fig. 3.10 Bring loop of kernmantle rope back Fig. 3.11 Snap an auto-locking aluminum
over the smaller circular region of belay device karabiner through the smaller hold of the belay
1.1.Unhook your quickdraw from the pole.
2. Tighten any slack out the kernmantle rope so that it becomes your main point of
balance and support. (see fig. 4.1 – 4.3 for instructions on how to change the slack
in your rope, how to brake using your rope, and how to descend on the rope)
• Your right hand is your brake hand
• To tighten your rope, put the brake hand in free fall position and pull the
rope through the belay device with your left hand and then put the brake
hand into brake position
3. Unhook the lobster claws from the pole and then step onto the element.
4. While adjusting your slack with your belay device, walk across the element to the
injured climber.

Fig. 4.1 Fast Descent Fig. 4.2 Slow Descent Fig. 4.3 Brake Position – used to
Position – brake hand Position – use this position completely stop or holdWatson
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goes on bottom portion of under most circumstances current position
Warning: Double check all of your karabiners, pulley system, and belay set up before
unhooking your quick draw and lobster claws from the pole. Auto-locking karabiners
are convenient, but you can’t always trust equipment that does the work for you. You
must always double check karabiners.

Making the Medical Emergency Rescue

Purpose: In this section you will learn the process of making the actual
rescue of the injured climber. This will entail connecting the climber to the
dynamic belay, descending to the ground, disconnecting yourself and the
climber from the dynamic belay, and administering first aid.

Connecting the Climber to the Dynamic Belay

You will be connecting the injured climber to the

same dynamic belay that you are hooked into and
disconnecting the climber’s old static belay. Everything is
ready for this step to go extremely quick. All you will
need is the extra aluminum karabiner already on the
dynamic belay and your climbing knife.

1. With your free hand, because one hand will be

holding the brake this entire time, connect the
unused auto-locking aluminum karabiner (that is
on the end of the kernmantle rope) to the injured
climber’s reinforced loop on their harness. (see
fig. 5.1) Fig. 5.1 Example of karabiner
2. Tighten your rope to take pressure off of the hook up between the climber
injured climber’s lobster claws that are still (right) and facilitator (left)
attached to the overhead cable.
3. a. If possible, with your free hand, unhook the injured climber’s lobster claws
from their harness. If their weight is still primarily on their lobster claws, then you
won’t be able to unhook their lobster claws and instead refer to 3.b.
b. With your free hand, take your climber’s knife off your harness and cut through
the injured climber’s lobster claws so that their only support is the dynamic



Descending to the Ground with the Injured Climber

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Now that the climber is securely hooked into the dynamic belay, you are ready to
belay the inured climber and yourself down to the ground.

1. Use your free arm to hold the injured climber’s head against your chest.
2. Slowly raise up on the brake position of your belay device until you begin to
slowly lower.
3. Lean to the side of the element after you begin lowering so you “fall” off the side
of it, avoiding an awkward and possibly painful descent around the element.
4. Continue to slowly lower the injured climber and yourself to the ground. Hold the
same position with your brake arm to keep from slowing down or speeding up.
5. When you are about to reach the ground, tell a bystander on the ground to come
grab the injured climber to help keep them from just collapsing on the ground.
6. Once the injured climber is being held by a bystander, disconnect their karabiner
that is connecting them to the dynamic belay
7. Lay the injured climber down.
8. Disconnect yourself entirely from the dynamic belay and take off all excess gear
(lobster claws, quickdraw).

Warning: If at any time during the descent the injured climber begins jerking or
causes you to feel like you are not in control of the situation, immediately put on the
brake and make sure you will be safe before continuing the descent. If the situation
only seems as if it will become worse, begin to descend quickly.

Administering First Aid

If you are first aid and CPR trained, then begin administering first aid now. If you
have not been first aid and CPR trained, do not begin administering first aid. By now
hopefully there is a medical professional nearby or someone who is trained in first aid
and CPR to help.


Having completed these instructions on how to perform an emergency medical rescue

on a static belay high ropes course, you should just need practice on a static belay high
ropes course to be fully confident in performing this rescue. After you get the hang of
performing the rescue properly, try timing yourself to see if you can get your time down
to between two and three minutes. When you are saving people’s lives, you can never
been too fast.

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