Preparing for Self-Rescue & Survival Success

From early in our fire service careers, we are taught that there are three priorities on any incident: life safety, incident stabilization, and property conservation. Paramount in this list is life safety, especially the lives of our firefighters...

Once the RIT members have located the downed firefighter, a rope can be lowered to the rescuers and a handcuff knot can be attached to the victim at the wrists (see Photos 6A - 6G.) If the knot is tied in the center of the rope, then two members of the RIT team can assist in lifting the victim out of the hole in the floor (see Photo 7.)

Moving a firefighter up and down a flight of stairs: Trying to grip wet firefighting gear can be very difficult, especially during an emergency. Therefore, it would be beneficial to utilize the SCBA harness to lift and move the firefighter. First, the SCBA waist strap should be repositioned so the waist strap runs between the legs of the downed firefighter (see Photo 8.) Then, the rescuer at the head of the victim can utilize the SCBA shoulder straps to lift and move the firefighter. The second firefighter can position at the knees of the victim, and the team can move the victim safely up or down a flight of stairs Photo 9.)

Moving a firefighter out a window: This will require a minimum of four rescuers, with two rescuers inside with the victim and two of the rescuers positioned outside the window on two ladders, standing by with a litter to receive the victim. One rescuer is positioned inside between the victim and the window, with their back up against the wall, under the window. The second interior rescuer is positioned on the opposite side of the victim. The rescuer at the wall acts as a ramp and lifts the victim straight up, while the second rescuer pushes the victim toward the window, into the litter that the two outside rescuers are standing by with (see Photos 10 abd 11.) The outside team members can assist in placing the victim into the litter. Once the victim is in the litter, the two rescuers carry the litter directly to waiting EMS personnel for treatment and transport.

In Conclusion

It is the responsibility of every member of the fire service to provide for their own health and safety, including being able to identify the signs of deteriorating conditions during interior operations. Self-rescue skills should be second nature to all firefighters; the time to practice these skills is before the emergency, under both normal and compromised environments inside the building. These skills, along with sound rapid intervention team practices, will go a long way to ensure the safety of all members operating on the fireground.

MICHAEL DALEY is a lieutenant and training officer with the Monroe Township, NJ, Fire District No. 3, and is an instructor with the Middlesex County Fire Academy, where he is responsible for rescue training cirriculum development. Mike has an extensive background in fire service operations and holds degrees in business management and public safety administration. Mike serves as a rescue officer with the New Jersey Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 1 and is a managing member for Fire Service Performance Concepts, a consultant group that provides assistance and support to fire departments with their training programs and course development. You can reach Michael by e-mail at