“How’d That Happen!”
I want to start this drill with a shout out to the awesome fire department in Decorah for the countless hours they have put into their training facility! It is truly a testament to what can be done when a few dedicated firefighters bring an idea to a supportive department and gain momentum from a strong community! Congratulations on your facility and all that will benefit from your vision!
This month’s drill is focused on vehicles we find in odd places and positions. I’m talking about the ones that when you are doing your size up you say, “how’d that happen.” The pictures are provided by the Decorah Fire Department.
These calls will present you with stabilization challenges. You will have to utilize special equipment to stabilize the vehicle in the position found to safely extricate the patients. As with any extrication, a solid base must be established to eliminate motion. When a vehicle is found “hanging by a thread” or teetering on falling, extra caution is called for. Search the internet for vehicles accidents in odd positions and then set the scenarios up to match. There are many manufactured struts that can assist with quickly establishing this.
If you do not have such equipment then you will need to rely on long 4x4’s. Having a few various lengths stored under the hose in the bed of the truck is simple. Simply label the ends for length, drill a hole, and secure webbing to make it easier to remove and provide an anchoring point when in use. Having metal stakes or tie down straps between them work great. When applying the strut, be certain to not place yourself directly under any vehicle without support. Apply struts from both sides simultaneously. Resist the urge to shake the vehicle to test for security! If you are in doubt, add more supports. The addition of ropes and wedges can provide more stability.
Upon completion, the department should be able to…
• Identify stabilization equipment available to your department.
• Perform a scene size up.
• Establish a stabilization plan based on the size up.
• Demonstrate the ability to stabilize the vehicle with equipment available.
Scott Meinecke is a member of the Sheldon and Granger Volunteer Fire Departments, Director of Safety for the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives, and field staff for the Fire Service Training Bureau. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org