Our Own Bailout

Editor’s Note: Our friend Prell shares another letter from his friend Karl with thoughts on personal rescue and survival. – John

 

Dear G.,

Just saw an interesting demonstration on bailing out, thought you might like to hear about it. Randy, who showed some of his equipment and techniques defined bailing out as getting out of a dangerous situation quickly by descending a rope.

Someone had seen a Hood’s video where Ron Hood is in a foreign country (Romania?) and staying at a hotel that had no fire escapes. When Ron asked the hotel manager why they had no fire escapes, he was told, “We don’t worry about those things like you American’s do.”

This got us started in thinking about what we could carry with us, maybe ON us to bail out from an upper story. Despite Ron’s advice on a heavy waist belt to link onto, Randy says you can destroy your back with one. A simple Swiss seat (a.k.a. a diaper harness) can be made with 1 to 1 ½ inch nylon webbing. NRS makes the world’s greatest straps that can be used too.

The buckle is a simple cam affair that clamps down on the whole width of the strap and cannot slip. They are cheap too. One of these can be adjusted to the right length to make a very secure seat harness. For a few dollars you have a bailout harness. Put it in your jacket pocket, keep some in your luggage.

You need an anchor point to attach your bailout rope too. If you don’t mind a little bulk, Randy said, carry a FESH hook.. They are made to penetrate the wall around a window sill, or hook onto pipes, conduits, heavy furniture. If you are in a woods scene they can grip a tree or post. On a large tree, use a couple of wraps and hook the FESH onto your line. Experts use a leg or body rappel, but there are simple figure eights that can serve well to slow your descent.

Randy gave us a demo from the bed of his pickup truck. Keeping his body low, he rolled over the tail gate, as if exiting a window.

“Ever look at fire equipment catalogs?” He asked. ”It’s fascinating. All rope work and rappelling doesn’t have to use mountain climbing gear, even though that is how it started.”

It’s been on my mind, George. I mean bailing out. I had like a vision. It’s night, you are walking on a road along the steep bank of a river. Up ahead you see the lights of a car coming towards you. A spot light sweeps the brush. They are looking for someone. They are looking for you. You don’t want to think about who they are or what they will do to you if they find you.

You are wearing your web harness under your jeans. You hook onto it with the fifty feet of small diameter rope in the bag on your belt and anchor it around a small tree. You use a carabiner wrap, just like they showed you in the Army. You take two steps and start a slow descent just as the lights approach where you had been walking. You prepared for this night and now your practice is paying off.

Not sure why this is on my mind, G., but recently it has been. Does this creep you out? It does me.

Sincerely,

Karl