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      Understanding the IRATA Syllabus: Complex Rescue Systems (team exercise)

      This exercise has been designed to test your ability to create and implement a complex rescue plan that necessarily incorporates many different elements (cross haul, tensioned lines, possible intervention, remote rig-to-rescue set-ups) to get the casualty around various three dimensional objects/hazards and to safety. Once on the ground or on a nearby accessible platform, they can begin receiving medical attention.

      You will not be the only tech performing this rescue; this is a team exercise and as the L3 supervising tech in this scenario, you will be responsible for planning with and coordinating your team and ensuring the rescue is performed safely, efficiently, and quickly.

      During your IRATA Assessment, L3 certifying techs will be asked to demonstrate competence planning and rigging a complex rope access system and then carrying out the associated team exercise.

      Careful planning will be required. You will have 45-60 minutes to plan and rig the exercise, and 15-30 minutes to execute the rescue, as laid out by the TACS.

      We’d encourage you to try and be on the lower end of the execution time frame, keeping suspension intolerance in mind (although, because of the longer rescue time, you will be using work seats and stretchers to prevent the casualty’s harness from acting like a tourniquet while they’re ‘unconscious’ in suspension).

      *This exercise could be used by your IRATA assessor to check for the satisfactory completion of IRATA form 061, Job Planning.

      Your IRATA assessor will be watching to ensure that you take into account...

      1. Team Management

      You’ll be working with the techs you’ve been in class with during your training week for this rescue. Just like you would on the work site, you’ll need to consider each team member’s skill level during the planning stage.

      Since you’ll be coordinating the work tasks, during the execution phase you’ll need to make sure that you’re appropriately positioning and repositioning yourself in order to see and communicate with each member of your rescue team during the entirety of the exercise.

      2. Communication

      In the planning stage, you will need to practice clear communication with your team members to ensure that they know their role in the rescue operation. This responsibility carries over into the execution phase, where each stage of the rescue will require additional communication and clarification to ensure everyone is working together appropriately.

      Think of yourself as the conductor of an orchestra. You’ve given everyone their part to play during the planning stage, and now during the execution phase it is your job to make sure that those parts fit together the way that you meant them to.

      Remember that communication may not only be verbal. During the planning stage you may decide on select hand signals/visual cues with your team as part of a communication strategy.

      In a real world scenario, you may also need to communicate with with emergency services and other site personnel. Communicate your knowledge of this responsibility to your assessor during the team exercise, to show them that you’re aware of all the moving parts.

      One of the challenges that could arise with a complex rescue like this, is that your attention may be pulled in many directions. One of the things your assessor will be watching for is your ability to maintain focus amidst a variety of different (sometimes competing) stimuli.

      3. Equipment

      Equipment selection is another one your responsibilities. During the planning stage, you’ll need to consider which equipment you’ll need, how much, and who will use it. The competence of your team mates will factor into this decision, along with equipment compatibility.

      4. Casualty Management

      During the execution phase, you and your team (with your coordination) will need to demonstrate best practices in casualty management; demonstrating that you’re aware of their needs as the rescue is performed. High up on your radar should be suspension intolerance. Since this will be a longer rescue, you’ll need to keep the casualty in an upright position, and (as mentioned above) provide them with comfort measure like a work seat. As much as possible, you want to keep their legs lifted out of the confines of the harness leg straps.

      Below we’ve included a list of resources that would be helpful for you to review. There’s a lot to consider with this one. On the day of the assessment, remember to take your time. Don’t ever hesitate to take a short pause to gather yourself before continuing.

      Please note, as we practice this rescue manoeuvre 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. This acting role has its hazards. If you’re playing this role, whenever you’re not being supported by a workseat, you’ll need to move your legs frequently to prevent the onset of the symptoms associated with suspension intolerance.

      We’ll go into much further detail on all of this during your training week.

      Additional resources to check out:

      TACS 6.5.5 for the source material for this blog.

      TACS 6.2.8 for more information on planning for emergencies -- the requirements and guidance listed here should be incorporated into your rescue plan.

      ICOP for a brief summary of your responsibilities in an emergency procedure.

      Our blog post on Understanding the IRATA L1 Syllabus: Planning for Emergencies

      ICOP Part 3, Annex A for more information on Risk Assessments.

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

      ICOP 2.3 for information on selecting suitable rope techs for your team.

      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 L3 certifying tech, you’re expected to be fully competent with the L1 Syllabus and L2 Syllabus. For the additional skills that are part of the L3 syllabus, click below:

      IRATA L3 Study Guide