The Emergency Descender Doesn’t Just Make a Hunter Comfortable — It Prevents Suspension Trauma

After a fall it's critical to avoid hanging in the harness, and to get down as quickly and safely as possible. The Emergency Descender lowers the hunter automatically and hands-free immediately.

The Emergency Descender Doesn’t Just Make a Hunter Comfortable — It Prevents Suspension Trauma

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If 20 avid hunters were gathered in a room, research shows that one among them will fall from a treestand in his or her lifetime.

That means it’s likely that 19 hunters will consider themselves safe when they ascend a tree with a safety harness only, while the one who has experienced an actual fall or will soon have the experience, will fully understand the importance of staying safe in the tree and preparing for the worst.

The best way to prepare for the worst is to know how you’re going to get to the ground quickly and safely. The best way to accomplish this a new product known as the Emergency Descender, created by Primal Treestands. Yet just because a solution is offered, doesn’t ensure the solution is readily accepted as one that’s needed. Often this is the moment when a hunter might say to himself, “I’ll wear the safety harness and that should be enough. If I have to be a little uncomfortable while I’m hanging from a stand and waiting for someone to come retrieve me, well, I can deal with that.”

But that’s the thing. This isn’t about discomfort.

Emergency Descender: The Why

Instead, the Descender is about addressing a succession of medical events that can lead to death. According to Safety Research & Strategies, the use of the harness itself can sometimes lead to fatalities due to something called suspension trauma.

Common symptoms of suspension trauma include:





Increased heart rate

“Greying” or loss of vision

Unusually low blood pressure or heart rate

Fatalities due to this form of trauma are rare, but when they do occur it typically correlates with the length of time someone is suspended in a harness. Sustained immobility and/or unconsciousness can lead to venous pooling. Or, put another way, this is when leg veins fail to work effectively and blood can’t make it back to the heart. The result is blood collecting in the veins.

In an interview with Safety Research Strategies, biomechanical engineer and safety expert Salena Zellers Schmidtke said serious injuries can occur to people suspended from a harness for as little as ten minutes.

“After ten minutes of inactive suspension, which could easily occur if the person is injured, the body can go into shock because of blood pooling in the legs,” she says. “This can result in breathing problems, brain damage and even death.”

Emergency Descender: The What

The Emergency Descender is rugged, but compact. Weighing less than 2 lbs., it’s small enough to fit into a coat pocket or the pocket of your safety harness.

It does not require a safety harness that’s customized for use with the Descender. Instead, it can be used with a hunter’s current, full-body safety harness as long as the harness meets ASTM Standards for a fall arrest system. The weight range for users is 120 lbs. up to 300 lbs.

emergency descender


Immediately lowers you down easy in case of a fall

Automatic, Friction Based and Controlled-Rate Decent

Up to 25' high

120-300 lbs. weight capacity

One time use only

Harness must meet ASTM Standards for full body harness

MSRP $50

Available for purchase at Sportsman’s Guide, Walmart,, Northwoods Outlet – in-stores only, Mike Scott’s Outdoors – in-stores only.

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