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On the weekend of May 12-14, 2006, Gaby and I took part in a basic technical ropes course here in Christchurch. In New Zealand Search and Rescue training is funded by the government, through an organization called SARINZ, the Search and Rescue Institute New Zealand, and classes are offered through Tai Pouitini Polytechnic. What a great way to support the instruction of those folks who contribute so much as volunteers.

The course was taught over three days, and Friday evening we went over several of the knots commonly used in Search and Rescue. All day Saturday and Sunday morning we utilized class time and hands on skills tests to reinforce concepts. The chief concept was to train complex, and act simply. In other words, to train at a high level, and then implement only to the complexity that needs to be done. We were taught many skills to enable the quick setup of expedient anchors to move a patient in a safe manner.

On Sunday Afternoon we took to the field to put our newly learned skills to practice. We braved a fresh southeaster bringing cold winds and plenty of wet while we had fun setting up progress capture systems, haul systems,and edge protection around a route chosen by the instructor. The exercise was a great success! This was a great opportunity for folks to understand what it takes to set up systems and just how simple and fast they can be. One of the most difficult aspects of technical rescue is to be able to look at a situation and implement a system which is only as complex as it needs to be. Oftentimes simple is best, as well as expeditious.

Andy and Kirsty practice the use of a münter hitch.

Class instruction.

Gaby rapelling with a munter hitch.

Simple mechanical advantage.

Constructing a “set of fours.” A compact block and tackle setup.