At a trench operation in New York City, the squad company will operate as a rescue company.
Technical incidents cover an enormous variation in response tactics compared to those on the fireground. While on the fireground we tend to do things in a more hurried manner because of the exponential extension factors of a cranking working fire.
At the technical incidents you often have to slow it down a bit and add to your size-up the additional tools, meters, and different personal protective equipment you made need for the protection of your people and the victim(s). While we dispatch some of these as "emergencies", it does take additional training to complete these evolutions correctly and with out injury.
As we all know, anyone can do something once or twice or even a few more times and be lucky. Sometimes if we do something that's not so good a few times and nothing happens, we may thinks it's OK if we are not corrected.
The same goes to technical rescues. I am sure you have heard it, but I would be remiss if I did not mention that over 66 percent of would-be rescuers become victims.
Trench Collapse Scenario
One incident I would like to relate to you is about a gentlemen that was having a problem with his septic tank. Because of the problem he goes out, removes the cover and does whatever it is that a guy with septic problems does. But, alas, he slips into the tank.
Hearing his cries for help his adolescent son goes running out there to lend a hand. Laying on his belly he reaches in to see if he can help his dad. As he extends his arm, the father grabs on, and, fully realizing that he is now in a world #*&@...of hurt, (I couldn't say it!), the father trying to pull himself up inevitably pulls too hard and drags his son in to this mire with him.
The mother is now screaming for help and people are starting to gather around when an off-duty fire captain hears the mothers cries. The captain, just as anyone of us would do, dutifully heads toward the unfolding crisis.
He sees what's going on and grabs a large branch to extend to the panicking men. They start to pull on it and the captain stepping forward warns to hold on but not to pull as they could pull him into the muck too. As he is finishing his statement he realizes, too late, that he is too close to the edge and as the men pull in a panic and he attempt to retreat, he slips on the ground and falls in too.
By the time the local fire department was notified, got a crew to the firehouse and responded to the scene, it was a recovery operation. Sad but true.
After reading this unfortunate story you can probably come up with several different things you may have done to possibly save these people, right? But you were not there, no pressure, no screaming, unable to look in to their eyes and see the panic as these people were drowning in this disgusting sludge. It's always easy after the event to "critique" and come up with solutions.
Well gang, that's what training is for. You take the classes for the technical stuff and you learn what you can do, what you can not do, and what others have done. Hopefully we will learn from others mistakes so we do not repeat them.
The usual causes of death in a trench are as follows:
- Suffocation.............................Unable to breath
- Crushing Injury.......................Damage to internal organs, acidosis
- Loss of Circulation...................Depriving vital organs the needed oxygen
- Being struck by fallen objects....Becoming unconscious, blocked airway
Trench Operations in the FDNY
At a trench operation in New York City, the squad company will operate as a rescue company. Just like we have our duties at a fire, dependent upon whether the chief wants us to be an engine or a truck, our duties vary according to the circumstance and response arrival.
Arriving on scene first requires the squad to operate as the lead technical rescue unit. The officer will gather information relevant to mechanism of injury, why there was a collapse, where the collapse is located and the possible location of the victim(s) under the dirt.