Smarter Technical Rescue – Working At Height And Confined Spaces

Written by Sarah Hampson

ALG Safety are exclusive distributors of Ruth Lee Training Manikins in Canada. Contact us on 905-517-7406
29 April 2021

Over the years, rescue teams around the world have greatly improved the capabilities of their teams to make sure they have the specialist skills required to perform technical rescues such as working at height and confined space recovery.

We know that a ‘trial-by-error’ approach won’t cut it – your team needs to be confident that they have technical rescue skills which are well embedded through effective and regular training.


Did you know that statistically, falls from height account for the highest proportion of workplace fatalities in the UK? Even if employers ensure that staff are well trained in using fall arrest equipment, there is also a significant risk of suspension related injuries and consequent fatality and therefore it is imperative that plans are in place to quickly and efficiently rescue the casualty.

Casualties are at significant risk if left suspended when unconscious. The longer a casualty is suspended without moving, the greater the chances are of serious consequences developing. Suspension Trauma is a very real risk, which is potentially fatal and training to ensure that workers are quickly rescued is absolutely imperative. The Canadian Safety Group have a great blog about this, explaining the problem in more detail.


Whilst you may already know and love our standard duty manikin, we have worked with experts in the field of technical rescue to develop manikins to suit specific training scenarios including working at height.

Available in a range of weights, 30, 50 and 70Kg, the Working at Height Manikins are designed to be anatomically correct with regards to weighted proportions and due to additional features, will sit comfortably in a rescue harness without slumping, making it the ideal choice for working at height rescue training.


Another technical rescue skill that is increasingly in focus is confined space extrication. It is a very specialist skill and depending on the environment of the extrication, potentially hazardous for the rescuer and casualty.

Previously, training for confirmed spaces could be tricky – getting your manikin into the narrow space could be as much of a challenge as extricating it in training! Ruth Lee now offer a Confined Space Manikin, which splits into several components to be constructed once the manikin is in position. None of the individual parts weighs more than 25kg meaning that it is easy to carry the individual pieces into the confined space.

In the UK, Ruth Lee Ltd worked with Eight2O Water Alliance to set up a training scenario for their teams. Working in collaboration with South Central Ambulance Service HART Team and specialist technical rescue crews from Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue, a fantastic technical rescue exercise was developed, which was praised by all.


Mike Green, Senior Health, Safety and Wellbeing Advisor at MWH Treatment Limited led the day and said,

“It was a great day where our site team could put in to practice what had been recorded and briefed with regards to what should be done if we need to evacuate a casualty from the 5 metre deep excavation, which also has a 6 metre horizontal 1.5m x 1.5m tunnel (timber heading) at the bottom!

It is an absolute requirement to have such plans in place, particularly when working in confined spaces.

As we don’t want to put any of our employees at risk, especially when using a recovery stretcher, lifting etc, the use of a manikin was the right thing to do to, allowing the team to practice the evacuation safely.

Once the drill was completed, we were able to review and feedback with the team any areas of improvement required, to ensure that any further evacuations would be carried out flawlessly going forward.

It was also great to be able to offer the emergency services the opportunity to come on to a ‘live’ operational site, to allow them to put in to practice the recovery of the manikin from the tunnel and share their own experience.

I understand that the fire and ambulance service don’t often have the opportunity to undertake joint exercises similar to what we did, and it was also noted during a close out briefing with the emergency service that they were able to use the exercise to identify their own areas of improvement going forward.

I was very pleased with the event – the exercise went brilliantly and our team got a lot from it. These learnings have been cascaded through Thames Water and my parent company, and all have praised the day.”

The Ruth Lee Ltd range of technical rescue manikins is well worth investigating if you are looking for a more challenging training scenario for your team. Our expert team are able to talk you through the different manikins to make sure that you choose the right man(ikin) for the job.

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Using Manikins for Scenario Based Training in the Fire Service

Using Manikins for Scenario Based Training in the Fire Service

The most effective training simulates different scenarios as realistically as possible.

Training manikins can greatly enhance your rescue scenarios. There is less risk involved and they won’t complain if left unattended for long periods of time. You can also learn through repetition and mistake – often key to improving skills. Choosing the right size, weight and type of manikin to use is one of the keys to effective training.