By Michael G. Brown
Are you having trouble keeping track of your supplied air breathing hoses during confined space training and actual rescues? Consider making an umbilicus system. It’s easy, it’s cheap, and it really works. Make the system in pairs. To assemble one, follow the directions below.
What you’ll need:
- A new 100-foot airhose section
- 115-foot 8 mm rescue-quality cordage
- 100-foot Con-Space1 intercom line
- 110-foot section of 2-inch tubular webbing
Tape the end of the airhose (male end), the cordage, and the intercom line together. Run 100-foot electrician’s tape through the tubular webbing and attach the components to the metal tape. Carefully pull all three components through the webbing. Make sure to thread them parallel through your fingers so they don’t get tangled inside the webbing. To finish the end, melt (a soldering iron works nicely) about a quarter-size hole in the webbing about 18 inches from the end; exit the airhose and the intercom through this hole. Finish the end that has the cordage inside using a well-tied overhand knot with about a 4-inch tail (the cordage will be visible from the end of the webbing). Now you have a retrieval line connection point, and the airhose and intercom line are free to move independently within the webbing in case of a fall. Tandem three wrap prusiks will even hold the umbilicus and the person in case of a fall.
*Con-Space makes the only certified intercom system for confined space entry in North America.
Michael G. Brown, a 26-year veteran of the fire service, is a battalion chief with the Virginia Beach (VA) Fire Department. He was a charter member of Virginia’s Department of Fire Programs Heavy and Tactical Rescue Team and was assigned to develop and produce the training curricula for the rope rescue and confined space rescue programs. Brown was co-founder of the Tidewater Regional Technical Rescue Team, one of the first regionally organized specialized rescue teams in the country, which became FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Team Virginia Task Force 2. He is certified nationally as a FEMA rescue specialist instructor and holds the position of task force rescue team manager. Brown is a corporate partner of Spec. Rescue International, a technical rescue training and consulting company.