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      Understanding the IRATA Syllabus: Rescue from an Aid Climb

      Aid climbing is a technique where work positioning lanyards are used to suspend and assist the movement of a technician climbing either vertically (L2 and L3) or horizontally (all levels) along a structure.

      Rescuing a tech from an aid climb is probably going to require some extra equipment.

      If the L3 supervising rope tech has included this rescue in a contract’s Safety Method statement, an easily accessible pre-rigged kit (including equipment and ropes) will have to be set aside and ready for action. As with any rescue, you’ll need to move fast (you only have 20 minutes before symptoms associated with suspension intolerance become dangerous), so it will definitely be a grab and go scenario.

      Team selection should also be considered. Who’s on your team, how many are certified to perform this rescue, and how quickly could a certified tech reach another member of their team? Answering these questions will help you decide whether or not this is viable rescue, and if not, to figure out how to make it viable – adjusting where techs are working in relation to one another, hiring additional L2 and L3 techs to the team, etc.

      During your IRATA Assessment, L2 and L3 certifying techs will be asked to demonstrate competence rescuing a casualty who is suspended by work-positioning lanyards.

      Although this rescue and a rescue from fall arrest equipment are both listed in the TACS certification scheme as required skills, you will only need to demonstrate one climbing rescue during your assessment. Which one, will be up to your assessor.

      As you perform this manoeuvre, your assessor will specifically be watching to ensure that you…

      • Maintain two independent sources of attachment whenever in suspension.
      • Practice good casualty management.

      There’s more than one way to do this. For example, in situations where assisted aid climbing was used as a technique, the tech may be suspended on remotely controlled work-positioning ropes. If this system was used, you’ll be able to lower the casualty straight to the ground.

      Provided there are no obstructions or hazards in the way of their descent, this is a great option. But for your assessment, you will be asked to climb towards the casualty with your pre-rigged kit, and lower, or descend with them to the ground.

      As we practice this maneuver during your training week (and when you demonstrate it on assessment day), one of your colleagues will be acting as a casualty and feigning immobility. If you’re playing ‘the casualty’, remember to move your legs frequently to prevent the onset of the symptoms associated with suspension intolerance.

      Additional resources to check out:

      TACS 6.9.1 for the source material for this blog.

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

      ICOP Part 3, Annex Q for more information on fall factors, clearance distances, and associated risks.

      YouTube Video: Comparing shock absorbing fall protection

      YouTube Video: Safety harness saves two lives

      Our blog on Understanding the IRATA Syllabus: Rescue from Fall Arrest Equipment

      TACS 9.6.3-9.6.4 for a full list of major and minor discrepancies.


      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. As an IRATA L2 certifying tech, you’re expected to be fully competent with the L1 Syllabus. To return back to the IRATA L2 Study Guide or IRATA L3 Study Guide, click below:

      IRATA L2 Study Guide     IRATA L3 Study Guide