Highrise Emergency and Aerial Response Team (H.E.A.R.T.)
by Ivan Kristoff
I would like to introduce a new concept for the high rise development industry.
With more than 15,000 high-rise buildings, and growing building development in Ontario, there is no specially trained urban highrise rope rescue unit to respond efficiently to emergencies in inaccessible places. Events, such as the Skyway Bridge in St. Catherines in 1993 and other rope access related incidents have shown that lives could have been saved if such a team existed. It is crucial to be prepared for the unexpected. It is crucial to be prepared for the unexpected.
Accidents have become more complicated. The solution for preventing them, or efficiently responding when they do occur, is to organize an emergency response team that is trained and equipped specifically for this task. This could be a team of highly qualified professionals and rope access technicians with knowledge in rigging and rope rescue, first aid, communications and bylaws. They could meet regularly to discuss, upgrade, practice and teach safety, rescue and emergency procedures in conjunction with other emergency services.
Because situations differ from building to building, or bridge to bridge, it’s crucial that this team be prepared to perform in the most unpredictable environment. In the case of an emergency, they could be called anywhere, any time, and with the cooperation of the emergency service providers (or on their own) commence high-angle rescue operations. In no time, the rescuers can descend, if necessary, on the location where the accident has taken place, and videotape the site, or any details for the investigation.
Living on the edge is what “ropers” do for a living. With an industry, being ranked as one of the most dangerous, I want to give the workers a chance for a safer future. I am, therefore, currently organizing a Highrise Rescue Team, an independent non-profit organization that consists solely of highly qualified professionals. We are, by necessity, cost effective and efficient.
Our purpose is to minimize loss of life, injury, property damage and risk to the high-rise environment and maximize the rope rescue efficiency through innovation.
To fulfill our mission, our objectives are to enhance public safety through rescue and safety education, provide emergency response and assist in providing post-accident reports (with laptops, digital cameras and communications systems on-site) in inaccessible places. Eiger is preparing an Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan for project and property managers, as well as Accident Prevention Programs for rope access workers. We are currently in the process of establishing a Highrise Rope Rescue Institute and an International Rope Rescue Multimedia Database.
The Team has the skills necessary for high-angle and high-altitude rope rescue operations. Beyond that our members strive to develop technically innovative concepts and advanced skills in the use of high-tech equipment and communications.
Team members donate their time for training and emergency operations. They train and practice a wide variety of skills in the field of rope access including rock and wall climbing, helicopter rappelling and ascending, use of technical rope rescue systems in extreme situations, aerial video and photography, radio communication, and first aid.
In collaboration with participating government and volunteer organizations, we intend to provide high-angle rescue and airborne support for:
– 911 Emergency Services
– Urban Highrise Rope Rescue
– Enhancing community-based emergency response services
The team is about people helping people. We relish being in extreme situations and seek every opportunity to exercise our skills.”