What makes rope work “tactical?”
Many rescue organizations use this word for technical rope teams. For Vertically Speaking, “Tactical” means an environment that includes a hostile or antagonistic human element as part of the mission parameters, be it a protestor, criminal, armed subject, military opponent, law enforcement incursion, etc. It may also refer to the rescue of a fellow operator / officer in such an environment. It refers to law enforcement or military, who have to carry their tools of trade with them, whether they anticipate their imminent use or not. This means body armor, lethal weapons, restraint devices, intermediate weapons, radio, cameras to record the event for court or a command post, lights, NVG;s, and adherence to department equipment policy and a use of force policy...which can have VERY different limitations and triggers in a vertical environment! Fire, rescue, and medical units who use this word for their rope work somewhat confuses things. They do not do tactical operations or rescues….they do technical ones.
Yes, tactical also means pre-planning in anticipation of a reactive response, but in the rope world, and at Vertically Speaking, we try to keep this word clear.
“Operations” mean work. Doing your job. For wind turbine workers, it mean rope access. For arborists, it means accessing the limbs with your tools…chainsaw and handsaw. For police and military, it means accessing a site to access a suspect, conduct surveillance, provide a distraction to facilitate an internal entry, gain entry unopposed, extract a hostage via vertical egress, intercept an active shooter, use ropes to access a criminal facility in the wilderness and either gain intelligence or take it down and exfil via a similar route, etc. For wilderness tactical teams, it sometimes means using rope to cut sign via traversing terrain features and leap froggng ahead of suspects, approach criminal facilities in the back country that are heavily armed via canyons and cliffs to recon for a subsequent assault, or deal with vertical protestors like tree sitters, logging operations bobby traps with monopods, or bridge protests to stop shipping, etc. Tactical operations can range from high rise building entry, suicide bridge jumper interventions, to back country vertical or mountaineering operations, vertical protestors in trees or under bridges, to facility penetration, access for demolitions (sappers), etc.
“Rescue” means using rope to rescue someone on a vertical surface or suspended by rope. It can be one of your own, a civilian, or a protestor or criminal, who is rope borne, that things went wrong for.
Each rope access industry has as part of its occupational operational training some element of rescue within their specific industry, where they expect to rescue their own. For example, arborists call this aerial rescue, which Vertically Speaking teaches in our tree operations program. Arborists expect / assume their rescue subject will be in a tree saddle and in an environment, they are familiar with. They expect to deal with idling chainsaws, climbing spurs, handsaws, moving rope systems, mechanical Prusik. Rope access workers train to extract their coworkers, whom they expect to find wearing class 3 harnesses with ventral, sternal, and dorsal attachments, have 2 ropes and a fall arrest device like an ASAP, etc. Police should also have integrated into their “operations” how to conduct officer rescue who may be stuck on a rope due to user error or some action the suspect took, be it via weapons, or some kind of rope access nasty trick.