Editorial comment: The following was sent from Patrick Dimmer with Arborquest in Michigan. Patrick and the rest of the Arborquest people spend a considerable amount of their time working with physically impaired young people--jmaher
I Just read the articles about the young boy getting his foot caught in the safety knot.
Two ideas: one, as a preventative (at least somewhat). What about clipping the first safety knot you make - with the person just over your head - to a webbing strap around the base of the tree? We started doing it this year and it worked out great. We knew that there was no way somebody could come down too much without us knowing about it. We still put other safety knots in as they were climbing up. Once they got farther in the tree, we often clipped in another safety knot to limit their downward progress even more. Now, it may not have helped in the situation described, because you'd still use safety knots and the kid could've gotten his foot stuck if he came down enough before the downrope clipped to the tree tightened enough to stop him from any further descent. But if he was up at the top, and you knew he was going to stay, you could clip him to the tree and not worry at all (obviously as long as someone on the ground doesn't futz with safety knot clip ins). It's easy for us, because we've already got the web strap around the tree because we're using the PACT system. You'd have to add a few minutes to set up and take down time, and would have to keep track of more carabiners (we use non-lockers just for ease of use, but they might be stolen more easily than locking ones).
Second thing. Two potential rescues. One easy, one harder. Easy: You climb up to just a little higher than the boy, and stand in his footloop to pull his downrope downward, so you can get the Blake's hitch up. Shouldn't crunch his leg too much more. Just thought of another easy (for a kid). Climb just above him, pull him in towards you and onto your lap, should be at least a little slack in his bridge so you can raise the Blake's a little.
Harder: Prepare another climbing line with a figure 8 knot and a locking carabiner on the end. Run it through a pulley that you attach onto your Delta. Climb up to him, trailing this second line. Clip it to his Delta. Climb above him (5 feet?). Ground crew pulls on his second line, which raises him up to you (and massively pulls on your body - you'll need a Physical Therapist or a Chiropractor when you're done!). You slide his Blake's hitch up by taking up the slack the ground crew just created in the kid's original climbing line.
What do you think?