Recently, media attention has focused on some confined-space rescue operations that went wrong. From May to September 2010, three high-profile confined-space rescues resulted in three deceased civilian workers, six injured rescuers and one fatality of a rescuer. What went so horribly...
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While all this is taking place, your entry team should be preparing its gear, setting up its equipment, preparing the rescuer, preparing for medical coverage, controlling other possible hazards, securing the area and maintaining control of the situation. It is crucial to begin the atmospheric monitoring with the other setup duties to expedite a rescue.
Controlling the atmosphere is the most important part of all confined-space entry work. This is the main hazard that kills most workers and rescuers. This is also the most difficult to identify and the most widely forgotten due to the lack of being able to see the danger.
You are called to a rescue of a worker in a tank and upon arrival you find a mid-30s male lying face down in an empty and, by observation, hazard-free environment. What you don't see is the atmospheric hazard and soon find out the tank is oxygen deficient.
Are you the next victim? Workers and rescuers, employers and owners, entrants and attendants all must aggressively manage and control the atmospheric hazards of a confined space. Your life depends on it, your rescuers' lives depend on it and your family depends on it.
For more information on confined-space rescue operations, see http://www.firehouse.com/podcast/buzz-technical-rescue/buzz-technical-rescue-first-responders-and-confined-space-entry>.
SCOTT GOODWIN is a lieutenant firefighter with the Ballville Township Fire Department in Fremont, OH, and a member of State Urban Search and Rescue (SUSAR) Region 1 for Northwest Ohio. He is a Certified Occupational Safety Specialist (COSS) and director of safety and training for Confined Space Training Services, offering confined-space entry training, rescue training and standby rescue services to the fire service and businesses using classroom and hands-on training with a mobile simulator. He can be contacted at 419-241-3601 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or online at www.confinedspacetrainingservices.com.