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Rope Course in Summer Camp

High Angle / Low Angle Rescue

Rope access is used in a variety of industrial, commercial and rescue situations. When it comes to rescue scenarios, the higher the angle, the more challenging and technical the rescue becomes. This is because at higher angles, more weight is dependent on the rope setup. At lower angles, most or all of the rescuer and victim’s weight are supported by the ground which, in most situations, are stable.

Here are the three categories of rope rescues based on their angle, and the differences between each approach.

Low Angle Rope Rescue

A rescue situation that involves angles of up to about 15-35 degrees is considered low angle. In these scenarios, most of the rescuer’s weight is supported by the ground and rope is only used for balance or assistance with the rescue.

Common examples of low angle situations are car accidents when the vehicle has gone down the side of the road, or someone falling over a slight ridge or incline such as down a ravine.

Steep Angle Rope Rescue

Rescues at 35-60 degrees are considered steep angle rescues. In this situation, the weight of the rescuer and victim are distributed relatively evenly between the ground and ropes.

These rescues can actually be a higher risker than a low angle rescue because more weight may be placed on objects around the setup, such as on rocks. Rescuers are also fully dependent on the rope system for upward travel because of how much higher the angle is compared to a low-angle rescue.

High Angle Rope Rescue

High angle rescue is considered to be terrain that has a slope angle of 60 degrees and higher. Locally, this category matches what you will see at Palisades Park.

In this type of rescue, rescuers are totally dependent upon the ropes for accessing and exiting the rescue. Since most of the rescuer’s and victim’s weight is handled by ropes, errors in setting up the rope system could be catastrophic or fatal.

Rescue technicians who perform high angle rope rescue require more specialized rope training than specialists performing low-angle rescues because since there is more risk of an accident due to judgement errors.

Image by Peeter Marvet

Surface / Swift Water Rescue

Water rescue incidents can happen at anytime. These situations are infrequent but pose an extremely high risk not only to the victim but also to the rescuers. Due to the infrequent nature of these events. most departments do not spend much time training or equipping their personnel to handle water rescue scenarios. 


We have identified this as a critical area in our community and have placed a large emphasis on being prepared for such emergencies. Water rescue is classified in two categories: 

Surface Water Rescue

A rescue situation that involves rescue of a victim from a static water source. This means that the water does not flow but remains static. Examples are: periods of flooding, pools, ponds,  lakes, holding tanks etc. Rescue techniques may be as simple as throwing the victim a life preserving device such as a rope or life jacket and can be more complex as rescuers having to enter the water to execute rescue of the potential victim.

Swift Water Rescue

A subset of technical rescue dealing in moving water or white water river conditions. Due to the added pressure of moving water, swift water rescue involves the use of specially trained personnel, ropes and mechanical advantage systems that are often much more robust than those used in standard surface water rescue. The main goal is to use or deflect the water’s power to assist in the rescue of the endangered person(s), as in most situations there is no easy way to overcome the power of the water.

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