Even with decades of experience, it was the ultimate test of endurance, intellect, skill; over two days in Belgium, teams of first responders from around the world are challenged by 10 life-saving scenarios over two days. Ronin Rescue, a private first responder company, has saved lives on remote oil rigs, confined spaces on construction sites, and raging rivers, and we jumped at the chance to be the first North American team to tackle GRIMP (Group de Recconnaissance Interventione Millieux Perilleux) Day – all with the help of Wiivv Wearables insoles.
Since 2000, our team dreamed of sending a five-person crew to the competition hosted by the Pompiers du Namur in the ancient city of Namur, Belgium. The event is hosted at the famous Marche le Dames Commando Training Center. We finally got our chance in 2013, floored by the incredible skill of the European rescue professionals, who were able to tackle problems with more flexibility and speed than rigid, manpower-intensive North American techniques.
So, we hit the books and came back with a vengeance, sponsored by Wiivv, Arc’ Teryx, PMI Ropes, Petzl, and Ethical Addictions.
The 2016 competition was unlike anything we’d experienced: picking up patients from a 90 meter cliff, an 80 meter high line rescue in which the teams crossed a gorge on a two-wire system, and more – all on muddy, rough terrain. And that was just day one.
At the end of the day, we were physically and mentally exhausted. But after hours of hiking, running, straining up ropes on rock faces, our feet were fresh.
Wiivv hadn’t just sent us to Belgium – we took along some of their 3D printed insoles, each customized for our feet. And they held up to my additional challenge: wearing high-top Vans skate shoes, rather than specialized climbing shoes or boots.
What better way to test the insoles than by wearing them in a pair of shoes that are not designed for the abuse I would put them through? The insoles worked fantastically! My feet were not sore or blistered at all. I had no arch pain and was comfortable for five cliff ascents and the entire 20-plus hours I was on my feet over the two days. The Vans held up well also!
With just that one small piece of additional gear, our team was able to #KeepGoing at our max for day two, which started at 6 a.m., and was even more challenging. Running between rescue stations two miles apart while carrying a 45 pound pack, rappelling off castle walls – we racked up more points than any English-speaking team in the 11-year history of GRIMP Day.
Ronin is extremely proud of the team members who make this trek every year. It adds to our company’s experience and life-saving skill base like no other training or event we partake in. We will be back in 2017 and challenge other Canadian and American teams to give it a try, especially if you’ve got Wiivv insoles in your shoes.