Monday, 9 November 2009

Aerial Tree Rescue

Aerial Tree Rescue

Hopefully if the operators adhere to the safe working practices outlined in “Tree Climbing the Safe Way” which we published on 29th October 2009, there will be few occasions when there would be need to undertake Aerial Tree Rescue. However we would like to give some information on how this should be carried out.

Immediate Actions

Everyone involved in Aerial Tree Rescue must have had appropriate training, the most important thing to be aware of is that the rescuer’s safety has to be the immediate priority, there is no sense in ending up with two casualties.

When an injured climber needs to be rescued, immediately make sure that any other members of the work team and anybody who might enter the site are all safe and are not in the area where the rescue is taking place.

One of the most important things to ensure is that there are no overhead cables involved, if the correct procedures for planning the climbing have been carried out then they should not be, however mistakes can happen. If cables are involved then the relevant electricity company must be contacted before doing anything.

It is critical that the casualty’s condition is assessed and the appropriate emergency services contacted, so that they can be getting to the site whilst the rescue is under way. Ensure that they have all the relevant information; location, access problems if any, name of casualty and any known relevant medical history, time of the accident and if any chemicals are involved.


Certain equipment must always be available at the worksite; some of these items are to be found in Forestry Tools & Accessories on the Granite Workwear web site.

First Aid Kit; this should be as comprehensive as possible not just the basic minimum required under the HSE regulations, for example it is useful to have Celox which is a haemostatic granule which when poured into a bleeding wound, links to the red blood cells promoting rapid coagulation.

Climbing Equipment; a suitable harness, ropes, karabiners, strops and any other equipment that the rescuer has experience of and training in, to assist in climbing safely. Other items would be ladders, climbing irons, ascenders and decenders.

Knife; a sharp knife with a retractable blade that will be able to quickly cut ropes or snagged clothing. However care must be taken when cutting tensioned ropes as this can cause injury to the casualty or the rescuer. Of course it is essential to be careful not to cut the wrong rope and also be careful not to cause cut injuries.

If in the course of the rescue there is a need for further equipment that is not immediately available then this must be sent for, communication should be available at all times by mobile phone or two way radio.


Keep up communication with the casualty if they are conscious, offering reassurance and encourage them to help themselves to get more comfortable if it is appropriate or possible.

Climbing to the Casualty

Choose the most efficient method of climbing to reach the casualty as quickly as possible but also safely. Use whatever climbing aids that you have available and that are appropriate.
Look for hazards for example broken, severed or hanging branches and also the casualty’s equipment that may create risks.

Assess the tree or trees and select the appropriate equipment to remove the parts that may impede a quick and safe rescue. If available use other trained operators to assist in this, but be mindful of not getting in each other’s way.

When you have reached the casualty make an immediate but thorough assessment of immediate needs for first-aid treatment and making them safe.

If there are indications of fractures, crush injuries and most importantly possible spinal injury, if possible wait for medical supervision from a paramedic or doctor.


Maintain close contact with the casualty and monitor any changes in their condition, reassure them and control them if necessary.

Remain securely anchored at all times; it is important not to put your own safety at risk. Make sure that your anchor points are capable of taking not only the load of yourself but of the casualty too.

When bringing down the casualty, it is essential to ensure that you and the casualty descend together to ease their movement through the branches and also enable you to monitor their condition constantly.

Stay with the casualty until he has been safely transported from the site by the paramedics.

After the Incident

Ensure that all personnel have left the site and that it is safe and secure. Take names and contact details of witnesses before they leave.

It is a good idea to take pictures of the site, using a digital camera or mobile phone noting the date and time.

In no circumstances use any of the equipment that has been involved in the accident until it has been thoroughly checked by a competent person.

Notify management of the incident and clearly record all details in the accident register, before reporting the incident to the HSE in accordance with the rules of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR).

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