0
mbohu

emergency procedures--keeping handles

Recommended Posts

I'll keep discussing this with instructors but I'm wondering what others did as well:

In AFF at our Dropzone we learned 2-handed emergency procedures. Student rigs and the simulator-wests we used on the ground had soft handles on the cut-away side and D-Style metal on the reserve side. We were told:
1. grab the cutaway handle with both hands
2. look at the reserve handle
3. pull cutaway and toss it (as far as possible) from you
4. grab reserve handle with both hands
5. pull and toss
In fact we had lots of fun throwing the handles as far as we could during ground training. (When I asked if the heavy metal handle falling from the sky at terminal speed couldn't injure someone they just laughed--I still think it could kill someone if it landed on their head or go through a roof easily)

So: I still practice the 2-handed emergency procedure every time I get on the plane.

I just ordered my own rig with 2 soft handles. I notice that almost everyone recommends holding on to your handles in emergencies.--which seems impossible with the 2-handed method (or, if possible would make it too error-prone--trying to pull the reserve while holding the other handle in one of the hands you're pulling with)
Also: with 2 soft handles it seems to me that I actually might get quicker and more repeatable results by grabbing both handles first and then peel-pull, peel-pull, rather than hunting for the reserve handle after pulling the cut-away.

On the other hand I keep hearing and reading: NEVER change your emergency procedures (unless you absolutely have to--and I guess wanting to save money and equipment wouldn't count)

So: Did you change your procedures once you had your own rig? How did you practice with the actual equipment? (since you can't really keep pulling your reserve handle) Did you just stay with the two-handed method?

(of course this question only applies to those who learned 2-handed initially)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have seen video of a cutaway handle in the reserve lines. Fortunately not above a cascade. I wouldn't throw handles.

I learned with ripcord and SOS, so going to throw out with a cutaway and reserve handle was a significant change. Lots of practice on the ground. Still practice.

If you have good upper body strength, I am a fan of the one-hand, one-handle method. You can put your thumb through the cutaway and/or reserve cable for a better grip, if necessary.

Derek V

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I learned capewells as a student (yes, I'm old). When I got a rig with 3-rings, I'd been jumping about 4 years, and I practiced one-handed cutaway. When I had my first cutaway on that rig, went to the cutaway with both hands, and the reserve with both hands.

So practice is good, but make sure you first separate from your main, and then get an open reserve as quickly as possible. Because you might be lower than you thought.

I also practiced throwing away my ripcords. When I landed after my very first cutaway (not 3-ring), I not only landed with both ripcords, I also landed with the handheld instamatic camera I was holding. Yeah, the one I'd crafted an easy-to-release loop for.

Practice stimulates reality, but reality is what it is.

Wendy P.
There is nothing more dangerous than breaking a basic safety rule and getting away with it. It removes fear of the consequences and builds false confidence. (tbrown)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mbohu


I just ordered my own rig with 2 soft handles. I notice that almost everyone recommends holding on to your handles in emergencies.--which seems impossible with the 2-handed method (or, if possible would make it too error-prone--trying to pull the reserve while holding the other handle in one of the hands you're pulling with)



In my opinion, if you get a reserve over your head and lose the handle then you did a good job. 100 bucks to replace a handle is nothing compared to what could have been.

In regards to 1 vs 2 hand, I found the velcro on new rigs is extra grippy. So its best to keep practicing with 2 hands. Rental and student rigs have a lot of wear and tear which makes it seem like one hand is ok. I will check its in place with one hand but practice with 2.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mbohu


I just ordered my own rig with 2 soft handles. I notice that almost everyone recommends holding on to your handles in emergencies.--which seems impossible with the 2-handed method (or, if possible would make it too error-prone--trying to pull the reserve while holding the other handle in one of the hands you're pulling with)
Also: with 2 soft handles it seems to me that I actually might get quicker and more repeatable results by grabbing both handles first and then peel-pull, peel-pull, rather than hunting for the reserve handle after pulling the cut-away.



Would you mind explaining a bit about your reasoning to go for a rig 2 soft handles at your (very low) jump numbers?

Was it something that people recommended? Does it look cool? Everyone else has?

I'm just interested in hearing your reasoning because soft handles are more tricky to use in real emergency, especially for people with low jumps who have A LOT of stuff going on at the moment those handles are needed. Also in some regulations you would need to have D-license to be allowed use a soft reserve handle.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Would you mind explaining a bit about your reasoning to go for a rig 2 soft handles at your (very low) jump numbers?



Certainly: While I personally really enjoy belly flying very much and want to focus a lot on it, the 2 (soon to be 3) dropzones in my area have a culture very much focused on freeflying. I have quite a few tunnel hours and am mostly sit-flying in the tunnel but have so far not done any freeflying at the DZ, as I did not feel comfortable with the rental rigs in that regard. So: I talked to quite a few instructors and experienced jumpers, who all seem to agree that a loop type or D-Style handle is not a good idea in that discipline.

One of the reasons to get my rig now rather than rent for a little longer is that I have been unable to keep jumping with the people that I started out jumping with, because I don't want to use the rentals for freeflying.

Also--like you said, not necessarily a good reason by itself--I don't know of a single person at any of the DZs I've been at who bought (or jump) a rig with anything but soft handles. Maybe that's different where you are.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yes I changed my EPs right out of AFF actually. I was taught you grab the cut-away with both hands, pull, grab the reserve with both hands, pull. While that method is the most simple and easiest for a student to learn, it's not the fastest option. As such, I changed my EPs to put my right hand on the cutaway, left hand on the reserve, pull the cut away with the right hand, pull the reserve with the left hand. That method is faster, but you have to make sure you dont do both at the same time (or the reserve first) or you can end up with a main-reserve entanglement. This video is a good demonstration (the best one I've seen so far) of how to perform EPs:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YD1we-F9-3c

I strongly recommend watching ALL the chapters on malfunctions that this YouTube author has (there are 10 or so). They are best malfunction instructional videos I've seen on the net.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I changed from 2-handed to 1 hand on each after my first cutaway at jump 51.
I did as I was taught: grab cutaway with both hands, look at reserve-handle, pull cutaway all the way (don't throw or keep, just let got after pulling all the way), grab reserve-handle with both hands, pull all the way.

Even though I was looking at the reserve-handle all the time I had difficulties to actually grab the handle(it took me some tries), maybe due to the acceleration after cutting away or the immediate deceleration due to the skyhook-activated inflating reserve, I can't tell.

So I now prefer to already have a hand on both handles...

On a side-note: The cutaway-handle was not lost because the long cable was still in the cable housing, so after I did my controllability check on the reserve and I was looking down, I could just grab the handle and stow it in my suit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I changed my training from static to aff. I was thaught both. First was 1 hand on each handle and peel pull peel pull. The other was 2 handed. I use the one handed now. It seems more bullet proof than the second method. And since I'm a big guy with bigger hands I get a really good grip on the handle. I don't doubt when the time will come I will have the strenght to rip that pillow of with one hand. Adrenaline does magic in those situations + the normal strenght.

I can see the two handed variation is better for student because of the RSL/skyhook system which deploys reserve for you.

The thing I will never change due to fashion is the color of the cutaway handle. Mind doesn't work ratioanlly in emergencies but on reflex. Since I got use to the red color that is what I will have in the future. I don't get it why some people pick black or camo colors for their emergency handles.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

The thing I will never change due to fashion is the color of the cutaway handle. Mind doesn't work ratioanlly in emergencies but on reflex.


Ha! Yes, that makes sense. Funny thing is: I ordered the rig with both handles red and a day later called back to change the color of the reserve handle to another bright color, as I thought it might be useful to have one more distinction between the handles that my subconscious mind can imprint on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Maddingo



Since I got use to the red color that is what I will have in the future. I don't get it why some people pick black or camo colors for their emergency handles.



Because it's probably better to memorize what side the cut-away is on vs what color. I remember cutaway not as red, but as right (grabbed with right hand), and the reserve as left (grabbed with left hand). If you decided on what handle to use based on their location vs their color, then their color might be less important. But I agree, I kept my cut-away as red just in case to make things as clear as possible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Red is a good colour when you go walkabout looking for your handle after biffing it into space. The camo ones hide themselves.

When big old B4 ripcord handles were dropped, sometimes you could hear them coming. Everyone would be diving under cars or running for cover. Getting hit by one would certainly make your eyes water....Solid handle with 3 feet of cable whirling around like a stingray with a line trimmer would ruin your day for sure.
My computer beat me at chess, It was no match for me at kickboxing....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
There have been numerous instances when an incomplete cutaway has caused main/reserve entanglement. To prevent this it is prudent to “clear” the cutaway cables from the housing by “sweeping” your left hand past them while still holding the cutaway pad in your right hand to ensure complete disengagement.

Then throw the cutaway pad away! Free up both hands for reserve ripcord pull. Pull it and clear it too! Throw it away! Free your hands to deal with your reserve.

Do NOT tell me you want to save having to pay for handles!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
jonstark

There have been numerous instances when an incomplete cutaway has caused main/reserve entanglement. To prevent this it is prudent to “clear” the cutaway cables from the housing by “sweeping” your left hand past them while still holding the cutaway pad in your right hand to ensure complete disengagement.


hmmm I am not understanding how failing to sweep the cable would cause a main-reserve entanglement. The cutaway cable protrudes only a few inches past the three ring release (on the rigs I have jumped anyway). If you grab the cutaway and pull to full arms length, you're pulling 24"+ of cable out. How could that still result in the main attached to your rig?

OP: Something that might worth practicing is to do your EP drills while in freefall. I found that the EP drills the DZ has you do in your harness on the ground to simulate cutting away a low speed mal is quite different than those used in freefall. The procedures are the same, but the locations of the handles are drastically different since you're not hanging in the harness. Just a tip that I found useful to make good use out of a solo jump.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20_kN

***There have been numerous instances when an incomplete cutaway has caused main/reserve entanglement. To prevent this it is prudent to “clear” the cutaway cables from the housing by “sweeping” your left hand past them while still holding the cutaway pad in your right hand to ensure complete disengagement.


hmmm I am not understanding how failing to sweep the cable would cause a main-reserve entanglement. The cutaway cable protrudes only a few inches past the three ring release (on the rigs I have jumped anyway). If you grab the cutaway and pull to full arms length, you're pulling 24"+ of cable out. How could that still result in the main attached to your rig?

OP: Something that might worth practicing is to do your EP drills while in freefall. I found that the EP drills the DZ has you do in your harness on the ground to simulate cutting away a low speed mal is quite different than those used in freefall. The procedures are the same, but the locations of the handles are drastically different since you're not hanging in the harness. Just a tip that I found useful to make good use out of a solo jump.

New cutaway cables should always be checked, measured and trimmed to right lenght. This is something most jumpers don't know about and sometimes even a rigger might forget. Suddenly you might have much more cable to pull before cutaway. It's also possible for the other side to be trapped if the 3-ring is improperly assembled which could lead to partial cut-away...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Just a tip that I found useful to make good use out of a solo jump.


That seems like a great suggestion--and I'm always looking for suggestions on what to do on solo jumps.
I feel like being real careful with that though. Wouldn't want to pull something for real, unless necessary.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yeah, everybody knows that your first handle is on the right. But think of a spinning malfunction on your back, where the forces don't allow the best viewing angle of your harness. It is way easier to locate bright (red) colors with your peripheral vision than the dark ones. Or think of a situation where you cannot use your right arm and you have to search it with your left arm etc. Most emergency handles/buttons in the world are red with a reason :)

@mbohu yes, that is even worse haha, both the same color... why not have a bit of a gamble with yourself and take a chance pulling the wrong one first :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
jonstark

There have been numerous instances when an incomplete cutaway has caused main/reserve entanglement. To prevent this it is prudent to “clear” the cutaway cables from the housing by “sweeping” your left hand past them while still holding the cutaway pad in your right hand to ensure complete disengagement.

Then throw the cutaway pad away! Free up both hands for reserve ripcord pull. Pull it and clear it too! Throw it away! Free your hands to deal with your reserve.

Do NOT tell me you want to save having to pay for handles!!!


Sweeping the cables is a solution to the wrong problem. The better solution is to take the time together with your rigger and adjust the cable length down to less than the travel length of your hand(s) when cutting away. Test that length, use whatever method of EPs you want (I personally have one hand on each handle, peel peel punch punch) and measure the maximum distance. For a two-hands-on-one-handle approach this distance will be shorter, since the reach of your opposite arm (left in case of the cutaway handle) will be shorter across your body. Then trim the cables down to where the length above the three-ring loop is less than that distance.

That eliminates the need to waste precious seconds (and altitude) by sweeping the cables.

On the original discussion, I'm in the don't throw away camp. I'll hang on to them unless I need to drop them, because they might fuck with my reserve deployment if I let go of them. For that reason I prefer the one-hand-per-handle EP procedure (also the one I learned from the beginning). The fact that I still have them when landing is a nice bonus.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
>hmmm I am not understanding how failing to sweep the cable would cause a
>main-reserve entanglement. The cutaway cable protrudes only a few inches past
>the three ring release (on the rigs I have jumped anyway). If you grab the
>cutaway and pull to full arms length, you're pulling 24"+ of cable out. How could
>that still result in the main attached to your rig?

Because in an emergency situation people do not always follow verbal directions; often they revert to previous training.

In this case there is the requirement to pull both handles very quickly - even if that's not covered in training, there will be a lot of pressure to resolve a scary situation quickly. In most people's previous use of handles, they are pulled until something happens, then released (i.e. car door handles, garage door opener releases.) Three very noticeable things "happen" when a jumper pulls a cutaway cable:

1) They manage to unmate all the velcro. On most rigs this takes a significant amount of force. After that the handle moves almost freely.

2) They cut away the first riser. This results in an immediate and dramatic change - there's a dropping sensation and radical change in attitude.

3) They cut away the second riser. This results in another dramatic change (return to freefall.)

Therefore, there is some risk that the jumper will pull the handle until "something happens" and them move on to the reserve handle - especially since students are commonly trained to look at the reserve handle (and not the cutaway handle, risers or parachute) as they cut away. This may leave the jumper with only one riser cut away. "Sweeping the cables" (or throwing the handle away, which is what I use) helps prevent that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Blis, I went with the two soft handles for an unique reason. I am in the Navy and I take my rig on deployment with me. When you walk around an active duty ship there are LOTS of snag hazards that will grab a metal reserve handle in a heartbeat. Pillows don't get caught. Now that I won't be on ships anymore I might reverse my opinion.
My goal is that when all is said done I will have a big pile of well used gear and a collection of great stories.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Blis

Would you mind explaining a bit about your reasoning to go for a rig 2 soft handles at your (very low) jump numbers?



I had even fewer jumps when I got my first rig with 2 pillow EP handles and even a freefly pud. My biggest motivation was being interested in freeflying. I knew I wouldn't get there for awhile, but I wanted my rig to be freefly friendly when I did. It was not a decision I made lightly. I recognized this would be a change in how I trained, and I treated it with the respect it deserves. I spoke with instructors, and I practiced with my new handles a lot before I jumped it. I still practice grabbing my handles many times each jump. I feel safe and comfortable with my choice and have no regrets.

A secondary factor was that I was frequently nervous about snagging the D handle in the plane, or even freefall. Maybe it was just the rental rigs I used, but the D handles always seemed a bit TOO easy to pull out. I'm more comfortable wearing a rig with pillow handles.
Max Peck
What's the point of having top secret code names, fellas, if we ain't gonna use 'em?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Blis

***
I just ordered my own rig with 2 soft handles. I notice that almost everyone recommends holding on to your handles in emergencies.--which seems impossible with the 2-handed method (or, if possible would make it too error-prone--trying to pull the reserve while holding the other handle in one of the hands you're pulling with)
Also: with 2 soft handles it seems to me that I actually might get quicker and more repeatable results by grabbing both handles first and then peel-pull, peel-pull, rather than hunting for the reserve handle after pulling the cut-away.



Would you mind explaining a bit about your reasoning to go for a rig 2 soft handles at your (very low) jump numbers?

Excuse my ignorance, but what makes a reserve pillow harder to use? Is it different from the cutaway pillow? I found the cutaway pillow very easy to use, even in AFF. I did notice the cutaway only has Velcro on one side and I presumed a reserve pillow would be the same?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20_kN

Excuse my ignorance, but what makes a reserve pillow harder to use? Is it different from the cutaway pillow? I found the cutaway pillow very easy to use, even in AFF. I did notice the cutaway only has Velcro on one side and I presumed a reserve pillow would be the same?



Yes a reserve pillow is the same (at least it is on my rig). A cutaway pillow may have been easy to use on the ground in AFF. In a real malfunction you have your body weight, which may be multiplied if it is a spinning malfunction. The 3 ring system is supposed to help with that, but maybe it was assembled improperly, or the cables are contaminated with sand and grit, and now you have a hard pull. That is why some students are taught the "both hands on cutaway handle" EPs. If that's the case, after cutting away when the gear shifts it is going to be difficult to grab the reserve handle in a high stress situation so a D ring will be easier to grab than a pillow handle (all you need is to hook it with your thumb).
Max Peck
What's the point of having top secret code names, fellas, if we ain't gonna use 'em?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account. It's free!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
0