After misreading the original debate on these forums about the use of the Figure 8 KNOT, I wanted to really get a controversial debate and discussion going about the use of the Figure 8 DESCENDER in rescue.
I for one, will never advocate or promte the use of the Figure 8 for any part of a rope rescue, wheter it be as a descender, belay device, etc.
Here's my reasons, not in any order-
1) No safety mechanism- The Figure 8 has no single or double stop mechanism
2) Human Factor 1- The Figure 8 relies on the rescue having at least one hand on the rope at all times. In a a "lost footing" situation or similar, the rescue can let go of the rope to catch themselves, resulting in a fall
3) Human Factor 2- Two different ways to reeve it. Depending on what way you're taught, you can come up from the bottom or from on top of the device (Does that makes sense?) THis can result in larks heading the device if the unit/rope gets caught on an edge. This in turn can lock up the descender leaving the rescuer stranded.
4) Multiple lock offs- The device can be locked off multiple ways- again they all have different pro's and con's. THis can create confusion to members that may be used to one way, and then having to be taught another way, etc.
5) Load ratings- Again, depending on the type and brand used, there's a load of different load ratings. Again, adds to the confusion.
6) Hands off test- One of the tests we do here when training is to blow the whistle. Every member of the team should be able to take their hands off everything and no one should be able to move or be in danger. With a figure 8, you let you, you fall.
7) Casualty/Rescue safety- If the casualty is combattant (spelling?) or panics, they can put both them and the rescuer in danger by knocking them, etc.
8) Friction- The unit heats up very quickly and is really only best suited to short rappels.
9) Human Factor 3- The unit reuqires the operator to control the speed/friction by hand. This can be too hard to control in a rescue situation.
10) Human Factor 4- Load it up with a rescue and a casulty and you've just increased the isuses around controlling the device and the friction.
For me, I'll take a double stop descender any day over an 8. Recreationally I use the 8 for quick small jumps, but that's it.
Now I know this is going to be controversial, so let's hear your thoughts, but be nice about it!!!!!