Highangle Evacuation

Evacuation down cliffs should be used only when absolutely necessary and only by experienced personnel. The cliffs with the smoothest faces are chosen for the route. Site selection should have the following features: suitable anchor points, good loading and unloading platforms, clearance for the casualty along the route, and anchor points for the A-frame, if used. There are many ways to lower a casualty down a steep slope. As long as safety principals are followed, many different techniques can be used. One of the easiest and safest techniques is as follows (Figure 11-5):

a. Use multiple anchors for the litter and litter tenders.

b. Secure the litter to the lowering rope with a minimum of four tie-in points (one at each corner of the litter). Lengths of sling rope or 7-millimeter cordage work best. Make the attached ropes adjustable with Prussik knots so that each corner of the litter can be raised or lowered to keep the litter stable during descent. Tie the top of the ropes with loops and attach to the lowering rope with a pear shaped locking carabiner.

c. Two litter tenders will descend with the litter to control the descent and to monitor the casualty. They can be attached to separate anchors and either self-belay themselves or be lowered by belayers.

d. Once the steep slope has been negotiated, continue the rescue with a low-angle evacuation.

Figure 11-5. Cliff evacuation descent.


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