Least Resistance Training Concepts

Volunteers Training for Emergencies

  LRTC Emergency Response Team

Basic Rope Rescue Systems

Updated December 21, 2017

This information sheet is primarily intended for persons associated with or working with the LRTC Technical Large Animal Rescue Team, however the information may be useful to other groups or private individuals who may wish to similarly equip their own technical large animal rescue teams.

Whether lowering a rescuer or a Stokes basket down an embankment, extricating a large animal using haul lines, raising a victim in the Stokes basket or loading an animal into a transport trailer using the Rescue Glide, it is often mission critical to be able to quickly and reliably assemble safe and effective rope systems that will provide the mechanical advantage needed to accomplish the assignment.

This information sheet is intended to provide review information and guidelines involving basic, rapid deployment systems. Links to reputable sites that provide more complex rope rescue system options are provided at the end of this feature.

The basic elements covered here include required equipment, basic knots, proper anchor points, and our most commonly used Z-rig, the 3:1 system.

  Required Equipment

The equipment typically deployed for these evolutions include:

  • Rescue / Haul lines

    • Certified "Life Safety" rescue rope for human rescues

    • Utility rope for animal rescues and stabilization

  • Webbing

  • Prusiks

  • Pulleys

  • Appropriately rated caribiners


Our "Life Safety" and "Utility" rope bags are clearly marked. Except in extraordinary circumstances the Life Safety rope should only be used for human life safety operations and the rope log must be updated any time the "Life Safety" rope is used or inspected. (NFPA 1983 requirement.)

In addition to these rescue and heavy utility lines, there are various personal safety, water safety, throw bags and minor utility lines available which are described later in this information series.

1/2-inch HTP static Life Safety rope, rated at 9,891 Lbs.
1/2-inch HTP utility rope, rated at 8,992 Lbs.

Key Points!

Human life loads require a 15:1 safety margin. 9,891 Lb. rated ropes can safely haul a load of 650 Lbs. (combined weight of victim, rescue gear and the potential load applied by rescuers assisting in removal such as up low angle slopes.)

Livestock loads require a 5:1 safety margin. An 8,992 Lb. rated rope can safely haul a livestock load of 1,800 Lbs.

Heavier livestock or anchor loads may require the use of the 5/8-inch utility rope. Our 5/8-inch rope is no longer certified for life safety use due to age.

5/8-inch utility rope, commonly referred to in the field as the "big rope."

Rescue 1 and Rescue 3 each have a water rescue throw bag that contains 50 feet of polyproplyene rope in a floating bag. A good video on how to properly use water rescue throw bags can be viewed here.

Floating water rescue throw bags.
One throw bag clipped onto the life vest bag.


Webbing is stored in the storage box labeled "Rescue Glide Box 1." Various lengths of 1-inch webbing rated at 7,000 Lbs. are available. Webbing lengths are represented by standard colors with each color representing a specific length. The lengths are marked at both ends of each piece and a mark indicates the midpoint of each piece. 15:1 safety provides a load rating of 466 Lbs. 5:1 safety provides a load rating of 1400 Lbs.

  • Black = 25 Ft. (2 pieces)

  • White = 20 Ft. (2 pieces)

  • Orange=17 Ft. (2 pieces)
  • Blue = 15 Ft. (2 pieces)

  • Yellow = 12 Ft. (2 pieces)

  • Green = 5 Ft. (2 pieces)

Various lengths in Rescue Glide Box 1.
Examples of length markings.


Our Prusiks are made from 8 mm accessory cord. Our orange Prusiks are rated for 4,046 Lbs. (270 Lbs. at 15:1, 800 Lbs. at 5:1.) A few green Prusiks remain but have aged out for rescue service but may be used to bundle and carry light weight equipment.

Prusiks should not be used as primary load bearing for weights that exceed their safety ratio ratings! They could be doubled up or backed up by appropriate lengths of webbing.

We carry Prusiks in two working lengths, 20 inches and 36 inches. In addition we carry Purcells that are adjustable in length that are carried in a separate bag.

Prusik lengths carried: 20-inch & 36-inch.


Each rope bag has attached to it an assortment of caribiners, an ascender and three pulleys. One is a double sheave pulley and two are single sheave pulleys. The pulleys are rated at 32kN (about 7,200 Lbs.) The compliment of pulleys attached to each rope bag can rig 3:1, 4:1 and 5:1 systems. Multiple sets can be used to configure more complex systems, changes of direction, etc.

Accessories normally found with rope bags.
"Load and go" field application.


The rescue units carry a spectrum of caribiner shapes and sizes. For simplicity in determining safe loading, they are color coded into two categories.

Caribiners rated at 27 kN (6,069 Lbs.) and greater are painted lime yellow. These caribiners are suitable for lifeline, livestock and other heavy / critical loads.

Caribiners rated below 27 kN are painted school bus yellow (orange.) These caribiners are associated with personal safety (tag) lines and personal accessory cord utility bags.

Left, livestock loads. Right, human loads.
Caribiners rated for normal (including human) loads.

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The training information presented in these information sheets and guides is offered for illustrative and volunteer refresher purposes only. It is not a substitute for actual hands-on training.

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