Grimpday 2024

The best among the world's top rescue teams using rope techniques – the Czech team of firefighters from the Hradec Králové Region supported by our Polygon returned with this title from Belgium.

The international competition Grimpday was held from 12 to 15 June 2024 in the Belgian town of Namur. Once again, the most experienced rescuers from all over the world met there. And among the twenty-four teams was the Fire Brigade Czech Republic team, which competed here for the third time. The first time it was fifth place, then second and this year they managed to reach the top.

In pursuit of the tasks, the teams also went to the Brussels or to the once world's highest ship elevator. The three days of competition were filled with twelve challenges in which the teams had to combine technical skills, speed, strength, the ability to find the best solution and handle totally unfamiliar surroundings.


One of the members of the Czech team recalls the first day of competition in Brussels. "The tasks that the organisers prepared for us took us to the national football stadium, the famous Atomium, but one of the scenarios also included moving around the construction of the historic Expo Palace," said Maj. Tomas Saifrt. "The assignments often involve the use of specific rescue techniques where we have to use new resources. For example, directly in the iconic Atomium, we used a battery-powered remote-controlled winch designed for transporting people to hard-to-reach areas when transporting an injured person into one of the balls of the building," added Tomáš Saifrt. Moreover, all the tasks took place when the buildings, which are normally visited by tourists, were in full operation. Even with this fact, the teams had to cope with it and take care not only for their own safety but also for the safety of everyone else.


The second day of the competition took the teams into the bowels of a technical gem - the competitors performed their tasks on a giant boat lift in the Strépy-Thieu area. Until a few years ago, this boat lift was the highest in the world, reaching up to a height of around 125 metres, while overcoming a difference between water levels of around 70 metres. "The lift has a fascinating design and we carried out one of the most challenging tasks directly on it. We moved to the underground area where our ropes were tied directly to the bottom of the sluice. The sluice then began to rise to a height of over 73 metres and our task was to cover this distance. Up the rope, a couple tied together were ascending, who also had to overcome several knots, which made progress difficult. The time limit was uncompromising - we knew it the moment the sluice started to descend again," said Tomáš Saifrt. The unique equipment was also used for other difficult scenarios, which took place, for example, in the lift engine room or underground, where the competitors had to use breathing apparatus. There was also a station directly focused on a medical topic - treatment and rescue of a person suspended on ropes who suffered the suspension trauma.

A special feature of the third day was the task stuffed on the historic Citadelle de Namur, the main venue of the international competition. The team had to transport an obese person on a special stretcher designed for oversized patients. To ensure a level playing field, the organizers lined the stretcher with weights so that each team worked with a load of 180 kg. At the end of the competition marathon, one of the most difficult tasks, rescuing a person across the water channel from the dividing wall between the river and the canal, awaited everyone. The key was to figure out the appropriate technique, and the Czechs were one of the few teams to accomplish this task.


The victory team Fire Brigade Czech Republic competed in the composition: Tomáš Saifrt, Petr Urbanovský (both firefighters from the Fire Protection Training School in Velké Poříčí), Lukáš Němec, Vojtěch Hrubý (both from the central station Hradec Králové), Lukáš Neklan (manager and instructor of POLYGON Singing Rock) and Jana Saifrtová (figurant)

This year's edition is rated by the participants as the most technically demanding so far. "The experience from the previous years and the quality of the team as a whole, as well as the individuals, helped us a lot. In general we were one of the faster teams, but in the overall evaluation speed is not always the most important criterion. More attention is given to the technical execution of the task, and in this respect our ability to find simple solutions to tasks has improved," says Tomáš Saifrt, who explains what was behind the golden success of the Czech team. "For us, taking part in the competition is a great experience that we are also capitalising on in our professional life. It's not just new knowledge in terms of technical resources. It is also a unique opportunity for us to discuss our practices in an international context, and this is great feedback. Another positive is that we are under pressure in the competition tasks. There are always unusual situations that can catch us off guard. It forces us to make mistakes and handle them, to eliminate them. This is what helps us improve and move forward. We then transfer the experience to our instructor courses," concludes Tomáš Saifrt.


Before leaving for the competition, the Czech team underwent thorough training, which was another fundamental reason for their overall success. They trained not only in a special polygon for activities at height in Velké Poříčí, but also in the countryside, e.g. on the dam of Les Království. The firefighters from the Hradec Králové Region were helped with the training by fellow climbing instructors from the Liberec Region. They prepared model situations in an unfamiliar surroundings, which were completely new for our team and simulated conditions that could occur at the competition.

Their success was due to hard preparation, experience from previous years, team spirit, but also professionalism of each individual. SINGING ROCK supported the Fire Brigade Czech Republic team not only with Lukáš's leadership but also with the equipment for this race.
Huge congratulations on a great team effort and we look forward to next year's event.

Source: HZS Královéhradeckého kraje
Photo: Michal Fanta

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