Poet's Seat Tower is a 1912 sandstone observation tower, located in Greenfield, Massachusetts. It was so named to honor a long tradition of poets being drawn to the spot. On a cool and overcast late-autumn day, with rain showers persisting, instructors from the Massachusetts Fire Academy (MFA) used the tower and the steep cliff terrain around it to run firefighters from Greenfield FD and others from around the Commonwealth through the Rope Rescue: Operational Level course. This 4-day program started with lecture and demonstration, working up to participant exercises and gave students considerable time on rope, providing the confidence and skills needed to handle rope rescues and slope evacuations.
Firefighters also trained in advanced anchoring, mechanical advantage, knot passing, lowering and hauling, line transfers, slope evacuations, patient packaging and litter management.
MFA instructors reviewed both awareness and operational level skills addressed in NFPA 1670. Topic areas included rope, knots, harnesses, hardware, basic anchoring methods, belay systems, mechanical advantage, ascending/descending techniques, and pickoffs as addressed in NFPA 1006.
Ultimately, firefighters put these skills together into complex systems and build artificial high directional anchors and high line systems used in the transport of victims from high elevation to safe areas.
Firefighters use NFPA Class II rescue harnesses as well as a rescue type helmet, work boots and leather gloves while training at Poet’s Seat Tower.
High angle rescue is built on putting together a series of basic skills into progressively complex systems. Here, firefighters practice maneuvering a stokes basket up a vertical surface before going over a cliff at Poet's Seat Tower in Greenfield, Massachusetts.
Over the Edge
High angle rescue is built on a series of systems all designed to raise and lower a rescuer assisting a victim. This sequence shows firefighters at Poet's Seat Tower in Greenfield, MA, raising a rescuer from a near-vertical face. The team managing the haul system are using a mechanical advantage system to reduce the workload and increase the overall capacity. This method takes quite a bit of time to set up and attention to detail is paramount.
Stokes Basket Time Lapse
Properly lashing a patient into a Stokes Basket for evacuation is a basic skill utilized in high angle rescue. Here, watch a team at Poet’s Seat Tower in Greenfield, MA practice using approximately 40 feet of nylon webbing, starting at the patient’s feet by tying a Girth Hitch around the top rail and proceed up the outside of both feet, wrapping the webbing around the rail and down and underneath the feet. The package is then put to the test when the team inverts the patient to assure that all webbing is secure and the patient is good to go.
Overall, it was an excellent few days of training in Greenfield with the Massachusetts Fire Academy Instructors, Greenfield FD and other departments from around the region at Poet's Seat Tower.