Learning rope rescue techniques —A great experience

LS Tina Gillis working on a high cliff face.

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Ten CAF members acquired new rescue skills they will pass on to the Canadian Rangers in the remote and isolated communities in northern Ontario.

Headquarters staff from 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (3CRPG) spent eight days clambering over rock formations and scaling cliff faces in the Parry Sound area, learning how to rescue people in a variety of challenging and potentially life-threatening situations.

“I’ve had a great time and a great experience,” said Leading Seaman Tina Gillis, a combat storesman with 3CRPG. “The first time on the really high part of the training, leaning back on the rope and looking down below, with a huge drop below you, it’s a little bit scary. But you just have to trust that you’re set up properly, that you are safe, and that you are doing what the instructors have trained you to do.”

The strenuous training included learning about the kinds of rope used in rescues, the variety of knots, and how to use specialized pieces of technical equipment.

They learned how to perform low-angle rescues, such as an over-the-bank situation when a car leaves a roadway and falls down a steep slope onto a high river bank. Steep angle rescues are usually higher risk and involve a number of situations where people have to be rescued from places like towers or high cliffs.

“I’ve only been rappelling once before this, during basic training on a rappelle tower, but never up on cliffs, this high, and with so many sharp rocks below us,” LS Gillis said.

The weather helped to make the training realistic—after several days of sunshine were two days of snow and heavy rain.

Low and high angle rope rescue is a specialized skill that is rarely taught within the Canadian Armed Forces, said Captain Caryl Fletcher of 3CRPG.

“This is a skill we’ve decided we want to pass on to the Canadian Rangers,” he said. “There’s nobody with this kind of training in Northern Ontario. There’s always going to be a need for it if a Canadian Ranger or a member of one of our remote communities gets into trouble.”

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