Rope access training brings highly-specialized ERT members to the Fir building roof
Greta Kooy, News Editor
Despite notices plastered on the walls of the Fir building, many of Capilano University’s staff, students and faculty members were surprised to see people repelling down from the roof as they peered out from their offices and classroom windows. On Feb. 26, several RCMP officers reported to CapU’s North Shore campus for specialized Emergency Response Team (ERT) training, collecting interested looks from passersby as they descended from the building above.
“An ERT is a group of highly-trained RCMP members capable of employing specialized weapons, equipment, and tactics to resolve extremely high-risk situations,” according to the RCMP’s website. ERT’s are police tactical units, the RCMP’s version of SWAT in Canada.
“We’re doing a national-level RCMP course,” explained Staff Sergeant Ron Parker. The rope access training, an integral part of the ERT training program, brought together ERT members from all over the country. “We need everyone on the same page,” he said.
Rope access training prepares ERT members for specialized scenarios where unequipped ground officers are unable to respond. “Say you have a high-rise building with a bunch of bad guys with guns inside… the guys [might come in from] off the roof and onto a balcony, that kind of scenario,” said Parker.
The training circuit takes place over a two-week period. During this time, Parker and several other members of the RCMP have travelled to various locations in the Vancouver area to conduct the same rope access training, including Park Royal mall and Lions Gate Hospital.
ERT training is ongoing and demands both physical and mental strength. For rope access training, “you have to not be scared of heights,” laughed Parker. “It’s complicated, there’s a lot going on.”
ERT units are comprised entirely of RCMP volunteers and their training is specifically designed to aid in dangerous, complex and high-stress situations – both on land and at sea, domestically and internationally.