GRIMP DAY Canadian Style
In June of this year, 34 international teams of rescue workers gathered in Belgium to compete in an intense one-day festival of physical and tactical challenges. GRIMP DAY (Group de Recconnaissance Interventione Millieux Perilleux) is an annual event that brings together a diverse mix of police, army, and civil defense experts to compete in a number of rope rescue scenarios.
This year, for the first time, a North American team traveled to the event. Canada was represented by RONIN Rescue, a Vancouver-based group of firefighters. One of few contractors on the continent to specialize in confined spaces rescues and custom rescue training, RONIN employs highly experienced firefighters, ex-military, and Search & Rescue personnel. This is an area of expertise and service that flies very much under the radar – literally.
"Imagine being on rope, inside a 410' ventilation shaft in the Royal Tower on Georgia St. Or figuring out how to highline 600' of rope across a remote canyon to check a gas line. That's the kind of work we do and where it crosses into the public domain is often in the case of disasters. We try to prevent those and educate workers on safety.' Mark Pfeifer is the President and CEO of RONIN and has been working in the emergency response field for over 20 years.
During the competition, the teams must assess and rig six different challenges while being evaluated by their peers. Running amongst pedestrians and cafés, the Canadians had to adjust their thinking when they realized they were halfway through the day with four scenarios still remaining. Operating under North American safety regulations, RONIN was rigging additional ropes on their highline systems, using up valuable time and more complex logistics than the other competitors. They rapidly adapted their strategy and then tackled other cross-continental challenges.
"There's no wide stairways and elevator access to transport your gear; anchor points are very different. So we adapted,' explains team leader Kevin Ristau. "For example, we approached a parking lot extraction like a confined space scenario, raising and lowering our patient on a 4:1 mechanical advantage system. No other team even thought to approach the location in that manner. We gained time with that one.'
This kind of out of the box thinking is what Arc'teryx is all about. "These guys operate at the very highest level of skills and resourcefulness. It's a privilege to work with them,' says James Bronson, Arc'teryx Pro and Industry Sales Supervisor. Bronson supported each member of the team with a Heli Guide Jacket in addition to the Talos LT Halfshell and Drac Pant from Arc'teryx LEAF (Law Enforcement Armed Forces).
"We were kind of the cowboys there, being rookies at the competition and using some unorthodox techniques. But honestly, the biggest attraction was our gear.' Kevin Ristau and others had several offers to trade or sell the shirt off their backs, offers which they turned down.' Having Arc'teryx in the backyard and being able to wear it over in Europe – that's unique. And it speaks highly of where we come from.'
Team RONIN finished 20 out of 34 teams – a more than respectable first effort – yet the knowledge, exchange of information, and their expanded community is the invaluable reward. Innovators at the top level – our kind of thinking, our kind of people.