Steerng Column: Part 3 - Side-Resting Vehicle Column Evolutions

Subject: Steering Column Topic: Steering Column: Part 3 – Side-resting Vehicle Column Evolutions Objective: Given the scenario of a driver trapped in a side-resting vehicle, driver’s-side down, the rescue team will...


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Subject: Steering Column

Topic: Steering Column: Part 3 – Side-resting Vehicle Column Evolutions

Objective: Given the scenario of a driver trapped in a side-resting vehicle, driver’s-side down, the rescue team will demonstrate multiple techniques for the rescue of a trapped driver using tools within their rescue tool inventory.

Task: The rescue team shall place a vehicle in a side-resting position, driver’s-side down and complete two different column movement evolutions using two different tools or techniques; Plan A and Plan B. Each evolution shall be accomplished in an elapsed time not to exceed five minutes from start to finish.

Part 3 of our University of Extrication series on steering columns focuses on procedures for pulling a steering column when the vehicle itself is side-resting, driver’s-side down.

Early in the process of deciding on the most effective method to use to solve a “driver trapped†extrication problem, rescuers should take into consideration the type or design of steering column: standard column, rack-and-pinion, etc. The rescue officer should determine if a tilt or telescoping feature is present on the column. A steering column with a tilt or telescoping feature may be able to be manipulated enough that the victim can be freed or at least the victim can be provided with some additional “breathing†room as the rescue team sets up to move the column. In addition, cutting away the bottom portion of the steering wheel ring or removing the entire ring by cutting away the supporting spokes will provide additional working room along the abdomen and chest area of the trapped driver.

Since the vehicle is side-resting with the driver’s side down, it is not practical to “roll†the dash or “jack†the dash to free the patient; the driver’s door can’t be opened. Confronted with this scenario, options to free the driver include several “back to basics†evolutions that many rescuers may find themselves unfamiliar or uncomfortable with accomplishing.

As power rescue tool rams came into vogue years ago, many rescue teams essentially abandoned the tried-and-true column-pulling procedures that existed and worked quite well in the pre-power ram era. The use of come-along tools at rescue scenes has faded over the past years. Rescuers familiar with porto-power systems are a dying breed as most rescue companies have discarded these tools in favor of relying exclusively on power hydraulics. For teams with all the power rescue tool bells and whistles that manufacturers have to offer, even training in using power spreaders or power rams as pulling tools is almost a lost art today.

The side-resting, driver’s-side down entrapment scenario can be your wake-up call. It’s time to get back to basics! Jacking a dash is a fantastic technique for freeing a trapped front-seat occupant; my favorite. Rolling a dash is effective as well but in this specific situation, these preferred methods are not possible.

Rescue teams can train and develop alternative column movement techniques by placing a vehicle in a side-resting position and solving the trapped-driver scenario. You’ll need a rated anchor chain and a working chain for the column wrap, some wood cribbing and a pulling tool from your tool arsenal.

The anchor chain is attached to a secure portion of the vehicle’s front undercarriage structure. Once secured, cribbing is placed across the front end of the vehicle to spread the load across the crumple zone front end. A pulling tool such as the power spreader, power ram, or come-along tool is anchored to this front chain.

Chain that is also rated for the pulling capacity of the tool is wrapped low around the column as close to the instrument panel as possible and below any tilt-column knuckle joint. The chain moves over the instrument panel and out towards the front of the vehicle.

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