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Videotape to help in vertical rescues

Local mountaineer producing part 2 in educational series

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PROVO — Local mountaineer Doug Hansen has some serious advice for those who spend time hanging above the ground.

"Never say never," Hansen said. "Black and white thinking is a dead-end road because life is not black and white. Rescue is a changing environment. Priorities can change in the blink of an eye."

Hansen, owner of High Angle Technologies Inc., is producing the second part of a "Vertical Rope Rescue Skills" video series designed to educate people in the art of vertical rescue.

Hansen has 25 years' experience as a climber and led the "Utahns for Everest" expedition in 1992 that made it to 25,000 feet before they had to call off the effort to best the 29,028-foot mountain.

The first video deals strictly with getting up and down such vertical environments as a mountainside or a building wall.

The second, now being filmed in Provo, takes on the challenges involved in bringing other people safely down from a dangerous situation.

The videos sell for $30 each and are made available to police and fire departments, climbing clubs, power companies and anyone interested in knowing more about climbing safety.

"With black-and-white thinking, people stop thinking," Hansen said. "Sometimes it makes sense to go through a red light, after the principle behind it has been dealt with. Other times, it makes sense to stop when the light is green. Knowing when to do so requires thinking. It is probably one of the most important tools we have, but it requires practice and learning the principles behind the techniques."

Secondly, the rescuer must not become a victim, Hansen emphasized.

"Once you are injured you become part of the problem, rather than part of the solution."

Hansen and his partner, producer Dale Green, recently spent the day at Provo Fire Station No. 3, showing search and rescue team members, fire department personnel and power company employees how to safely scale and descend a 75-foot practice tower.

Hansen demonstrated various rope, knot and pulley combinations and explained the principles and physics involved in each. He illustrated how different scenarios could increase or decrease load weight and ultimately make a rescue attempt succeed or fail.

"In a rescue situation, we're talking a minimum of three times the load with a 200 pound person," he said. "The forces are just incredible in a vertical rescue."

He lectures for 90 minutes in each tape but makes it clear that one-on-one training is essential. He says the videos offer a backup and serve as a refresher course.

Hansen also stresses teamwork.

"Obviously, vertical rope rescue is dangerous," Hansen said. "Principle-based rescue is the only way to effectively and safely accomplish the many varied and changing rescue situations."

Hansen said the principles he advocates work, especially when everybody on a rescue team understands and adheres to them.

"One of the best highs I've had in my life is when we had a rescue at the Upper Falls in Provo Canyon. We had the patient to the ground before the ambulance arrived because the team worked so well together."

E-mail: haddoc@desnews.com