Specialized Equipment

Rescue organizations use equipment specially designed to make their task easier. Although these items are not standard climbing gear, every climber should know what they are and what can be done with them.

Most important is a rigid stretcher of fiberglass or metal. A well-known design is the Stokes litter, which has a framework of metal tubing and a wire-mesh basket that closely fits the outlines of a person's body. The Stokes, although heavy, works well on technical evacuations and general carry-outs. Fiberglass stretchers with a metal framework are lighter and can be broken down into sections for ease of carrying, especially valuable attributes for technical rescues. They are widely used on snow because they slide easily. Many stretchers permit attachment of a wheel for trail or snow carryouts.

For raising and lowering, rescuers sometimes employ hand-operated or engine-powered portable winches with wire cables or non-stretch ropes that are several hundred feet long. The ropes are lighter than wire cable and require no specialized equipment to use other than standard climbing gear.

Two-way radio communication greatly facilitates mountain rescue, if the gear is lightweight and efficient. However, it can be difficult to get reliable transmission and reception through heavy timber, intervening ridges, long distances, and bad weather.

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