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We carry a variety of ropes on our Upper Ojai SAR trucks. We carry three half-inch 300-foot static ropes and three seven-sixteenths 200 foot static rescue ropes. We also care one seven-sixteenths 600-foot static rescue rope. Typically each member of the team is also carrying with them a 3/8 100-foot personal static rescue rope for personal safety protection, lowering gear and for securing edge protection during a high angle rescue. Each truck also includes two sixty-meter dynamic climbing ropes and lead climbing gear for sheer rock faces. In the wintertime we also carry a few 60-meter dynamic wet ropes for snow rope rescues and we even have specialty ropes we carry for water rescues that float.

If you added up all the rope we have in each truck we have just around a half-mile of rescue ropes in each rescue truck.

Below you will find photos of the typical knots we use in rope rescues here in Ventura County. There are many books that demonstrate the techniques used to tie these knots.

You can Click on the knot to see a larger photo of each knot.

Figure 8

This is the most used knot in search and rescue. It can be tied at the end of a rope or in the middle. It is easy to tie and more importantly easy to see if it is tied wrong. Once the knot has been loaded it is not too difficult to untie.

Double Fisherman

This is pretty much the most common method of joining two ropes together. It holds well but is a bit bulky. This doesn't need a safety knot, but do keep a minimum of a handís width on the tails. If weary tie a safety knot of the ropes are new, wet or slick.

Water Knot

The water knot also known by a couple of names like the tape knot or the double overhand knot. It is a very secure knot we use for tying together two ends of webbing. We use the webbing to secure anchors around rocks, trees etc. As an option the tails can be tied-off. We use this knot for two main purposes: a wrap-3, pull-2 anchor and for securing a patient into a stokes litter.


The bowline is a very versatile loop knot used in many situations but not very often in rope rescue work. The main reason is this knot has a tendency to untie/loosen if not properly tied off so make sure the tail is on the inside and tied off with a safety knot.


This knot was really developed by Dr. Prusik who devised the knot for rock climbers in the early 30's. We use this knot all the time in search and rescue. It is either used as a rope grab or as a safety, but in either case it is a used to grab another rope securely.

Clove Hitch

The clove hitch is ideal when setting up a temporary rope or quickly securing a load that will not be unloaded. This knot has a tendency to loosen if repetitively loaded. We use this hitch mostly for securing edge protection.


This knot can be loaded in either direction. We use this knot for a few uses, but most typically we use it as part of a hasty 3:1 trucker's hitch in swift water events. If we wanted a static point for edge pro, the Butterfly would work but we prefer a Prusik, so we can move around on the cliff.

Figure 8 Blend

This is another example of the figure 8 knot. A figure 8 is tied on one rope and the second rope follows the rope back through in a reciprocal path. This knot is shown with safety knots but these are typically not necessary.

Girth Hitch

Also called a cow hitch provides a very simple way of attaching a rope to a pole or a rail with both ends available for loading. We don't use if on an 8-plate, its just handy for this photo. But this can happen if you improperly rig the 8-plate.

Double Loop Figure 8

This knot is based on the figure 8 and is used when two loops are needed. Again this knot is not too difficult to untie after it has been loaded. This is an optional knot on our team and if used it is typically applied to in an anchor system.

In-line Figure 8

Like the butterfly knot but this knot can only be loaded in one direction. It is a member of the figure 8 family. This knot is used infrequently in our rescue systems. We prefer the butterfly which, can be loaded in both directions and is easier to tie.

Bowline on a Coil

We typically use this in situations where we are winding the rope a large boulder as an anchor. We typically would prefer the tensionless-hitch or no-knot due to the simplicity of the tensionless-hitch.

Rope and Knot Terminology

  • Bight. A simple bend of rope in which the rope does not cross itself.
  • Dressing the knot. The orientation of all knot parts so that they are properly aligned, straightened, or bundled. Neglecting this can result in an additional 50 percent reduction in knot strength. This term is sometimes used for setting the knot which involves tightening all parts of the knot so they bind on one another and make the knot operational. A loosely tied knot can easily deform under strain and change, becoming a slipknot or worse, untying.
  • Fraps. A means of tightening the lashings by looping the rope perpendicularly around the wraps that hold the spars or sticks together.
  • Lashings. A means of using wraps and fraps to tie two or three spars or sticks together to form solid corners or to construct tripods. Lashings begin and end with clove hitches.
  • Lay. The lay of the rope is the same as the twist of the rope.
  • Loop. A loop is formed by crossing the running end over or under the standing end to form a ring or circle in the rope.
  • Pig tail. That part of the running end that is left after tying the knot. It should be no more than 4 inches long to conserve rope and prevent interference.
  • Running end. The free or working end of a rope. This is the part of the rope you are actually using to tie the knot.
  • Standing end. The static part of rope or rest of the rope besides the running end.
  • Turn. A loop around an object such as a post, rail, or ring with the running end continuing in the opposite direction to the standing end. A round turn continues to circle and exits in the same general direction as the standing end.
  • Whipping. Any method of preventing the end of a rope from untwisting or becoming unwound. It is done by wrapping the end tightly with a small cord, tape or other means. It should be done on both sides of an anticipated cut in a rope, before cutting the rope in two. This prevents the rope from immediately untwisting.
  • Wraps. Simple wraps of rope around two poles or sticks (square lashing) or three poles or sticks (tripod lashing). Wraps begin and end with clove hitches and get tighter with fraps. All together, they form a lashing.


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Site Last modified: March 24, 2012