Monday, September 20, 2010

Night Ops

A friend of mine is a Rope Ranger (rescue specialist) for a regional heavy rescue team. Every so often, they have to practice dangling from ropes, drilling holes in bizarre objects, making little rocks out of big rocks or just taking out and putting away their toys.

As Carlos is a nice guy, he occasionally lets me tag along and take some pictures. As always, nothing in life is free, so I have to take pictures of him while he is performing his duties. Carlos briefing his squad; Carlos dangling on the rope; Carlos in the hole etc etc. Carlos takes the files I send him down to Ritz Camera and gets 10x14 prints made. He then takes them to the Picture Palace and gets them matted and framed for display. The hallway in his house is full of "hero shots", most of which I have taken so I know what was really going on when they were taken. He always has good beer at his house and he lets me photograph his drills so I can't say too much.

These pictures were taken early last spring, so my little camera was used. Carlos' team was doing a "breaching" drill, so it wasn't very exciting plus it was freaking cold. Once I took 10 images of Carlos being in charge, I donned a hard-hat that I keep in my truck and took a few pics.

The drill participants showed up at the scene and were briefed by the local agency I.C. who told them that search dogs had gone through and had "hit" at various locations on the site. The teams then had to determine if there were live victims in the rubble.

Here, a search team is drilling a series of holes into a void. They are working above grade, it is late and cold and most of them have been on shift since 0800.  The drill didn't start until dark and they have to do this evolution several times in several locations. A sharp safety officer is essential to monitor performance and procedures to ensure someone doesn't get hurt.

Once the hole(s) are drilled, a search cam is inserted through the hole and the operator looks on the LCD screen to see what he can see. The cam has an LED light on the end of it so the image is visible in the dark. Here, the search team is looking ae the screen after inserting the camera into the void. Apparently, they saw something that indicated they would have to enlarge the hole big enough to enter, then drill through another wall into another void. Ye Haw.

As the above team was requesting more equipment, I knew that it was going to get crowded on the platform. I opted to leave before I became a nuisance. Plus, I was cold and it was threatening to rain. Actually, I was afraid that Carlos would need more "hero" shots and I would rather be home with The Saint enjoying a beer.

Regardless, I left. Carlos later told me that two of the squads were at the site until just after midnight. Strong work boyos.

Thanks to Carlos and his team for letting me shoot their drill.

Thanks to you for reading,


  1. It ain't cold if it can rain.
    Cool pics though!

  2. Michael - It was very cold that night if i remember correctly. Down into the high 40s I think. Besides, what else can fall from the sky during a storm?

    Glad you like the pics!