Highline rescue is occasionally discussed, rarely prepared and scarcely trained. It is, however, of tremendous importance to be able to perform a safe, quick and efficient evacuation on every highline.
One of the (greatest) dangers of highlining is suspension trauma. It’s not the most well known phenomena (additional information here and here), but it can affect anyone suspended in a harness. A broken wrist or twisted knee can easily strand you on a highline without the possibility of getting back by yourself. And this is when a rescue becomes necessary!
There are different ways (playlist) to accomplish that and this is by no means a complete guide nor a tutorial on how to perform such a rescue. It is merely a short introduction into one particular piece of equipment that can be used to facilitate this task and we call it Teddy.
There is a short video on the Teddy by Marc and Philipp!!
The concept is quite simple. You attach a prusik to the leash and transfer the weight of the injured slackliner onto a Hangover and then slide him/her back to the anchor. In theory, this can be accomplished with every compact mechanical advantage system (or even a counterweight approach, if you really need to work out that badly..), but there are some benefits to the teddy that might make it one of the best options available:
- It is quick
- Prusik, click, pull, slide!
- It is powerful
- It is comparatively easy to lift the injured slackliner.
- It is lightweight
- I highly doubt that anyone can create a greater mechanical advantage with an equally light system.
- It is compact
- The entire system can easily be carried on a harness or in your pocket.
- It is cheap
- You can get this kit for <15€, if you want to.
- It is releasable
- In case you need to unload the Hangover again.
- It has limited throw
- You can only unweigh the leashring.
- You have to build it yourself
- There is no shop that sells this piece of equipment.
- It does not enable self-rescue
- You cannot rescue yourself
The Teddy itself is not very complex. It is a 5:1 mechanical advantage created with a ~165cm 6mm dyneema hollow-braid (light, slippery and low-stretch) with a low-friction ring working as a multiplier pulley and in combination with the distel-hitch (15cm of 6mm hollow-braid polypropylene) as a progress capture. Both ends of the dyneema have brummel locked eye splices. One small eye for the carabiner and one big eye for the handle. A handle can be spliced into the big eye, if you have sensitive hands. The lofring (low-friction ring) can be between 6mm and 8mm inner diameter and is spliced ~36cm from the small eye. Create the mechanical advantage system as shown above. Then you can install the distel hitch on the rope entering the ring and girth-hitch it above the lofring. Extend the system so that the lofring sits right next to the Hangover for maximum throw. Tie a single overhand knot next to the lofring (on the handle side) to limit the extension (this way you can’t accidentally mess up the system). Try your system in a safe environment and fine-tune the position of the knots and the handle.
The teddy is NO personal protective equipment. It CANNOT carry a person. The leash is your protection, never untie or cut it.
In this picture you can see how the injured slackliner can be pulled back to the side. This only works with the first generation hangover, because the gap is too small in the second version. Alternatively you can attach the pulling rope/webbing directly to the harness of the injured slackliner. Installing it in the Hangover is not the best idea, as it can turn or even open it..
That’s all for now. Stay safe and don’t do stupid things. And if you do, make sure to report them, so noone else has to make the same mistake!!