Brian Bourquin Wins Pick-Off Rescue Competition at the 7th SPRAT Rope Access Olympics

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This year, Ropeworks hosted the 7th annual SPRAT Rope Access Olympics in Houston with the largest turnout of international competitors and spectators ever. Many contestants in this event are expert rope-access technicians that come from around the world to compete in a variety of timed competitions.

Brian Bourquin, a top level trainer for Safety One, Inc., an international training company for working at height, entered the Pick-Off competition. This involved a timed rescue of a 90.7 kg (200 lb) dummy suspended from ascent gear on competitor harnesses.

A scenario such as this forces the rescuer to swiftly ascend to the person in distress. They then must create a system that will lift the casualty off their ascent gear so they can be safely lowered to the ground with the rescuer.

Brian’s usually calm demeanor turned into a flurry of calculated, organized speed once he became engaged in the pick-off rescue. His lightning-fast rescue was the fastest time recorded in this year’s deep field of international contestants. Brian’s speed and skill under pressure was impressive to see, but what most people noted was how his outside-the-box use of mechanical advantage helped him take a clear victory in the competition.

Bourquin SPRAT pick off - Approved for use

“When I was choosing a set of blocks for my personal rescue kit, I had a few criteria that were not met by the set-ups advertised to at-height industries. The problem with many of the pre-rigged kits was that they are heavy and cumbersome. I found sailing pulleys that were astonishingly light, strong, and compact. Because I was not lifting a long distance and not relying on the pulleys to be life-support rated, I was able to create a setup that was fast to use. I didn’t use a capture progress because I only needed to lift about five inches, which was enough to release the victim without cutting, then set them down on my rescue system.

I was also able to use wire gate karabiners to save weight and expedite the rescue. If someone’s life is on the line, every second counts. Because of the compact design, I created a 4:1 purchase that fits in the bottom of a bolt bag but does not weigh down your harness. I keep this set-up on me at all times, without hindering my day-to-day productivity. With this set-up, I was able to complete the fastest rescue in the SPRAT Olympics.

I trust Harken with my life and the lives of my coworkers,” Brian Bourquin

Harken Industrial, a division of Harken Inc., has a 45-year history of load-management experience, designing and manufacturing a broad range of high-end, material-handling apparatus. Strong, lightweight products include low-friction winches, pulleys, linear motion cars, track, and roller furling equipment in aluminium, stainless steel, or titanium, depending on the product. Harken equipment is tested in some of the toughest environments in the world from state-of-the art test labs to the harsh seas of the southern ocean.

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For information on Safety One Inc. visit: