Carry that rescue!

Its Field Team Member training for Search and Rescue time again.

Once  you find the lost person, you are must find a way to get them out of there.  Hopefully your newly found person can walk out of there on their own two feet, but many times they have been injured and need a bit of help.  Now, you wouldn’t think that toenailing, litter, and caterpillars would have something to do with rescuing a person.  They are essential for getting a person out of trouble safely.

layer search and rescueThings may sound a bit gross or complicated and it can be if you don’t know what is going on.  This is why I am here!

First we learned how to set up a litter.  The litter is the thing that a person is carried in.  To make sure your patient stays nice and dry, start with a nice waterproof layer.  A tarp does nicely.  On top of that you gotta have something comfortable and warm.  How about a nice sleeping bag?

Lift a person up and slide the litter under the passenger then wrap him up in a nice cocoon of warm goodness. Sounds nice doesn’t it?  Don’t get too comfortable yet. We have to make sure you don’t fall out of the metal contraption while getting you down the side of the mountain.  This is when someone gets tied up!  The knots look much more complicated than they really are.  I learned that the best way to tie someone up, I mean, secure someone in a litter is to make sure you have lots of knots.  If one part of the rope gets cut or damaged during transport, it’s nice to not have the rest of the rope fall right out.

litter knots

Didn't I see this in Silence of the Lambs?

How many people does it take to carry a litter?  That would be six.  You would think that a 170 pound person could be easily carried by 6 people for several hours, but looks can be deceiving.  Remember we are not walking down a nice sidewalk with this thing.  The idea is to get the person smoothly and safely to help as quickly as possible.  The terrain can be unkind, and the quickest way to help may not be down that nice smooth trail.  We learned to carry the litter over fences, across giant boulders, through some playground equipment, down a steep slope and up a steep hill.  Wait, did I say playground equipment?  Think of trying to get a litter through something that looks like this.

mountain laurel tunnel

mountain laurel tunnel

We learned tons of new things.  Caterpillar involves passing the litter down a line of people.  This works wonderfully on an area that might be tricky to walk on. When you want to get someone up a nice steep hill, you toenail it.  That is very gradually lifting and setting the litter back down as if it were traveling up an imaginary staircase with the litter head resting on a step at each pause.  We had a nice grassy hill to work with.  I would hate to imagine what this would do to a person’s knees on a gravely incline.  It looked awkward, but worked like a charm.  Laddering was simply passing the litter to a group of fresh bearers in front of you.  Did I mention we practiced all of this in the dark?SAR litter

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