Looking to build on the technical skills learned in the classroom, students in the Oswego County BOCES Public Safety and Justice Program practiced repelling Tuesday morning at the Scriba Volunteer Fire Station.
While some had a wealth of experience climbing and repelling, other students were a bit more hesitant as they “learned the ropes” from BOCES instructors Mark Bender and Chuck Gabriel with the assistance of rope rescue team instructor Erik Heath.
According to Gabriel, the classroom portion teaches students how to tie 15 types of knots, learning the figure eight family of rescue knots, differentiating between a rescue rope and a utility rope, and discussing the different kinds of rescue hardware.
“We spend about four to five weeks in the classroom teaching the kids about knots, mechanical advantages and different types of ropes,” Gabriel said. “Then we spend one week out here repelling and doing other rope-related training.”
For Richard Prent, a BOCES student from the Fulton City School District, the hands-on training provides a unique opportunity for him to combine the knowledge he gained in the classroom with some of the ropes skills he previously acquired through his hobby – rock climbing.
“I go rock climbing at a place in the Rochester area,” Prent said, noting that the repelling exercise helps provide a real-life application of the classroom skills he and his peers learned. “It shows students the (correct techniques) to repel.”
Although not all students had previous repelling experience, one after the other made their way to the ledge of the tower for the hands-on lesson.
“Some kids are really hesitant to do this,” Gabriel said. “But this exercise accomplishes a lot of other things. It builds confidence and trust. It’s something they can turn around years from now and tell their kids, ‘Hey, I did that.’”