"Mayday, Mayday, Mayday". Ladder One Officer to Command, Mayday"
"Command to Ladder One Officer, go ahead with your Mayday"
"Ladder One to Command, Mayday, I am lost in the basement and running out of air, I am not sure where I am!"
"10-4. Command to the Rapid Intervention Team, I have a lost member in the basement and he is running out of air, go get him!"
"RIT to Command, 10-4"
"RIT to Ladder One, activate your PASS alarm, we're coming to get you"
Yep, another on of those scenarios that a commanding officer does not want to hear. But, if it happens, are you ready? I am fairly sure that most of the departments in the U. S. have some kind of RIT in place if a member goes down or gets lost. But do you have a plan of action if the member is out of air or is trapped and in an immediately dangerous to life and health (IDLH) and the extrication will take some time? This is where the RIT PAK will come in handy.
When I am conducting a live burn exercise, or for that matter any evolution that that I feel a RIT would be beneficial, first I ask for volunteers. Usually the attendees will all take a step back. Of course I will then appoint a boss and have him pick members to fill the positions and we will have a talk about the importance of the RIT. No one wants to "miss" a working fire, standing outside, watching everyone else go in and "do the job". But if something were to happen to a member inside of the building, there is no more important of a job than the RIT, except maybe the nozzle team, because if they abandon their position, the whole operation might go to "hell in a hand basket".
When going in to an IDLH after a fellow firefighter that has given a mayday, or is declared missing after a roll call, failure is not an option. The members assigned to the RIT duties should be experienced, determined and ready to risk a lot to gain a lot. While waiting outside of the building, "read" what is going on, making mental notes on the fire location, type of building, occupancy, and construction. Where are the access and egress routes, have the utilities been controlled, and the location of the hand lines, apparatus, operating forces, and the type, color, and intensity of the smoke, to name but a few of the items you should be considering in your size-up.
The RIT PAK we will discuss is the one I use and am familiar with. This article is not about rapid intervention teams, it's about the RIT PAK. It's about another tool for you arsenal. In photo 1, all of the parts of the RIT PAK are described. What ever brand you have or intend to purchase, training is the key to being proficient with this tool. Using this tool in a stressful situation will require you to be on top of your game. I know that if you are coming for me, that is the way I would want it!
This RIT PAK is a portable air supply made by Scott for use as an emergency air supply when a member is low on air or is out of air and in need of help in an IDLH. It does not have a low air indicator and the only way to monitor the pressure in the PAK is by the cylinder gauge.
High Pressure Air Supply
For SCBA's with a Universal Air Connection (UAC) there is a high pressure coupling with five feet of high pressure hose. Attaching this to the SCBA will equalize the air pressure in both cylinders (the SCBA and the RIT PAK) in about 60 seconds (see photos 2 and 3). The UAC has a check valve that allows air to be delivered to the SCBA and not back to the PAK. When using the RIT PAK, the cylinder valve should be fully opened, then connected the UAC to the downed members SCBA. When charging is complete, disconnect the UAC from the SCBA. There are several variables to be considered when using this high pressure air supply:
- If the cylinder is damaged or there is a leak, do not use the UAC.
- If the UAC on the SCBA is damaged or debris prevents a good solid connection, use a low pressure method of supplying air to the member.
Low Pressure Air Supply