February 2000

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Tech News

Emergency Rescue Community Sought to Develop ASTM Standards
ASTM Committee F32 on Search and Rescue plans to standardize emergency rescue personnel operations and equipment. Balanced representation from the emergency rescue community is sought for new standards on:


A balance of users and manufacturers are sought to develop standard guidance on the safe operation and construction of various types of anchors used in remote rescue operations in wilderness areas, as well as a standard test method for anchor strength. The standards will cover high and low angle anchors used on rock, scree or terrain, and protection anchors used in operations with potential falling hazards. Contact: Roger LeBrun, Malibu Mountain Rescue Team, 5442 Quailridge Dr., Camarillo, CA 93012 (805/987-2525).


A standard is being developed for load ratios as they apply to technical rope rigging equipment and systems in rescue. Load ratios are typically used to determine safety factors in a system or operation. The standard will emphasize the difference between load factors used in component design versus system load factors that may be more important in field use. The document will impact users, designers, manufacturers, and testers of technical rescue equipment. Contact the chair of Subcommittee F32.01 on Equipment, Testing, and Maintenance, Loui Clem, PMI-West, 499 W. Caley Dr., Littleton, CO 80120-3429 (303/794-0944).


This standard will establish minimum specifications for life safety rope used as rescue rope to benefit users, designers, manufacturers, and testers of technical rescue equipment. Stakeholders are invited. Contact: Loui Clem, listed in item #2.

4. GUIDE for Determining Minimum Breaking Strengths (MBS)

This document will provide a consistent method for determining MBS reports of life safety equipment in product labeling and test results. Use of this document will help to maintain clear and more consistent reporting of MBS. Representation is needed from users, manufacturers, and testing agencies. Contact: Loui Clem, listed in item #2.

5. STANDARDIZED TESTS Weights for Rescue Testing

This document will establish consistent test weights for use in rescue related equipment and systems testing. It will provide clear, usable interpretation of test results for users of life safety rope. Rescue equipment and systems manufacturers, and users are sought. Contact: Loui Clem, listed in item #2.


A test method is being developed to determine belay effectiveness in rope rescue systems and evaluate belay systems. Fire departments, mountain rescue teams, bridge inspectors, National Park Service personnel experienced in wilderness operations, and insurance company representatives are invited. Contact: Steve Hudson, Pigeon Mountain Industries, Inc., 4466 Highway 27 North, PO Box 803, La Fayette, GA 30728-0803 (706/764-1437).


The development of a standard guide for rescue techniques in wilderness environments is under consideration. Philosophy and procedures for performing rescues during inclement weather in remote areas will be provided. Mountain/wilderness search and rescue teams, National Park Service personnel responsible for “back country” search and rescue, and other users of lightweight, sophisticated rescue equipment, small ropes, and carabiners are encouraged to participate. Contact: Philip Umholtz, 85 Joaquin Rd., Portola Valley, CA 94028 (650/851-7789).


A uniform standard reference for the provision of workers’ compensation insurance to volunteer emergency services personnel nationwide is being developed. Participation is encouraged from city, county, state, and federal government regulators of volunteer emergency service personnel issues, insurance companies, emergency search and rescue teams, consultants, and rescue equipment manufacturers/designers. Contact: Mark Nelson, San Dimas Mountain Rescue Team, 1475 S. Paseo Maravilla, San Dimas, CA 91773-3908 (310/715-2726, ext. 310).

Comments may also be directed to F32 Chairman John McKently, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, 1502 Camulos Ave., Glendale, CA 91208 (818/247-3209). These activities will be discussed at the May 20-21 meetings of Committee F32 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. For meeting or membership details, contact F32 Staff Manager John Pallante, ASTM (610/832-9737).