Pacific Ropes Blog

Understanding the IRATA L1 Syllabus: First Aid and Suspension Intolerance

In the case of an emergency rescue, things are going to move fast. If a tech has passed out in their harness, you have less than 15 minutes to get them to the ground before the onset of suspension intolerance, and to begin administering first aid. That’s why L3 techs are required to have their first aid certification. Some rope access operations take place in remote locations, so even if you called a paramedic right away, they probably wouldn’t get there by the end of the rescue and you can’t afford to just wait around for them to show up. Once on the ground, your colleague will need first aid attention right away.

During your IRATA Assessment, all levels will be asked to demonstrate how to manage a rescue in a way that causes the minimum amount of discomfort to the casualty. They’ll also have to demonstrate competence with the current advice on suspension intolerance, including its causes symptoms and treatment.

If a tech passes out while in suspension, their harness could act like a tourniquet cutting off blood flow to their legs. This could quickly lead to a condition called suspension intolerance, whose unpleasant symptoms could result in unconsciousness or, in the worst case scenario, death.

Suspension intolerance is a danger we also have to be aware while training. In some situations, a rescue dummy or weight bag may be used, but most of the time you will be asked to help your colleagues out and play the role of casualty during your training week. For your comfort and safety, you’ll be encouraged to use a work seat while feigning immobility. You’ll also need to move your legs frequently to maintain blood flow to your legs.

This portion of the assessment may be practical or desk-based. As your TMC (training member company), we’ll make sure that you’re ready for both.

Additional resources to check out:

TACS 6.2.9 for the source material for this blog

ICOP Part 3, Annex G for more information on suspension intolerance.


This is part of an ongoing series, where we’re breaking down IRATA’s syllabus and clarifying exactly what ‘demonstrating competence’ and ‘demonstrating awareness’ means, and what will be expected of you on assessment day. To learn more about the rest of the IRATA L1 Syllabus, click below:

Succeed your IRATA L1

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