Service technical rescue and rope access share the common basis of using life safety rope for protection, access and retrieval. However, rope access techniques focus on individual skills that go far beyond just rappelling and a rescuer-based pick-off.

An individual has what I would consider to be an advanced competency level for working at height. This is a confidence level allowing a rescuer to move up or down, laterally and transitioning from one rope system to another while maintaining two points of contact at all times.

Where the service technical rescue team tends to deploy a fairly large group for everything, we are seeing that in some cases, a rope access worker can accomplish a similar task quickly and safely with just one person.

A rope access approach would send a rescuer up using a dual lanyard fall protection system. They would set two ropes above the victim and bring the victim down with a pick-off as a backup for both. The whole procedure might be done in less than 10 minutes.

Another influence of rope access on the rescue industry is changing equipment. You are now seeing a host of new efficient devices, harnesses and ropes developed for industrial rope access, but that are also very useful to any person who works at height, including a technical rescue technician.