How to Create & Improve an In-House Vehicle Extrication Technician Course

The New Orleans, LA, Fire Department has been building an in-house vehicle extrication technician course for much of the past decade. Along the way, we have picked up a few hard-earned lessons to pass along to anyone thinking of creating or improving a...


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We invited New Orleans EMS, which has its own technical rescue squad, to join forces with us for our class this year, and what a boon that was. They brought a well-developed PowerPoint presentation to the program and, more importantly, brought fresh viewpoints and techniques to our curriculum. We also contact local vendors so that our students get a chance to work with a variety of extrication tools.

• Don’t just bust up cars. Vehicle extrication scenes are quite chaotic and need a great deal of control. This needs to be emphasized continuously during the course. We allow our students to concentrate on their techniques when working their seven basic techniques on the afternoon of day one. After that, everything is scenario-based and students must establish control zones and staging areas, and conduct hazard identification and mitigation, resource control and implement the incident command system. We have always kept our students focused on the fact that they are there to get a viable patient out of a mass of tangled, twisted steel as quickly, safely and efficiently as possible.

• Document, document, document. You will be doing your students a great disservice if you do not create a set of documents that tell the world exactly what those students were taught. I am leery of certificates proclaiming that a student has attended a 40-hour course. Forty hours of what? Our certification states that the student has mastered vehicle extrication to the Technician II level in accordance with NFPA 1006. In addition, our lesson plan states what portion of that plan supports the individual JPRs of the standard.

We have a training plan that gives the instructor guidance on what will occur on each day of instruction, outlines the minimum items to be covered in the safety briefings and covers the inclement weather plan. Instructors fill out a practical-application score sheet on each student that shows what evolutions were performed to meet the JPRs. These records are kept on file indefinitely at the fire department training academy. Our students can prove to any department in the country that they have met a nationally recognized set of standards.