Column: Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association

editorial image

All mountain and cave rescue teams have an unending wish list of rescue equipment they strive to acquire to give the maximum chances of a successful rescue and the actual saving of lives.

New technology really is mind blowing what it can do, something older members of the team could never have dreamed possible. We have just obtained one big

item from our own list in the shape of a Larkin Frame, an amazing invention from Australia.

Underground leader Rich Hudson from Harrogate explains the latest addition to our arsenal of specialist equipment:

“We have expertise in many areas ranging from casualty management, climbing, swift water to off road driving and caving rescues. To assist us we have a good number of dedicated pieces of equipment ranging from ropes and hauling gear to specialist communications and lightweight titanium stretchers The Larkin Frame is designed and constructed to give rescue teams maximum versatility in lifting people and equipment out of mineshafts, cave shafts or cliffs/crags.

“We have used tripods over many years, constructed of scaffolding, they have proved very useful but are difficult to construct and heavy to transport. The lightweight Larkin Frame is truly amazing in that it can be pivoted back and forth to allow ropes and anything attached to them to hang freely over an edge with a design that keeps team members at a safe distance from the drop, The anchoring of the Larkin frame and indeed any rescue and hauling ropes is a highly specialised skill .Rescue team members go through rigorous training to ensure that any rope system is absolutely fail-safe.

“It can carry a whopping 400kg load –enough to support a casualty in a stretcher plus a medic/casualty carer. It’s made from high tenacity aluminium alloy and only weighs 40kg and can be transported by just a few team members.

“Looking like a pair of inverted triangles joined with the two top points splayed apart and joined by a tube it is a cross between a tripod and a crane jib and it took us all some time to try work out how to assemble it – let alone its very clever physics - immaculate triangulation is how it has been described.

“It has eleven sections of tubes and many exotic connection points. With training however it can be erected within 10 minutes by two trained people. We are

still within this and attendance at practices has been excellent.

“The Australian inventor is a Kenneth Larkin and it is manufactured in Sydney. It has rapidly become the standard rescue equipment for the Australian rescue organisations including the fire and police services. We understand distribution is now worldwide and already in action in the USA – the Grand Canyon no less, as well as Europe and Japan.

“The frame doesn’t come cheap selling at £5,500 but there is more good news for the team in that our national organisation Mountain Rescue England and Wales have been able to fund it and the deal was arranged through the British Cave Rescue Council.”