'Crash Course' Quick Drill Series - Part XI

For crews desiring compliance with NFPA 1670, Standard for Technical Rescue Training, Chapter 6-2.2a, a vehicle crash scene size-up should include the following.Topic:Side Impact Collision Size-Up It is important that rescue personnel be competent in...


For crews desiring compliance with NFPA 1670, Standard for Technical Rescue Training, Chapter 6-2.2a, a vehicle crash scene size-up should include the following.

Topic:Side Impact Collision Size-Up

It is important that rescue personnel be competent in conducting an accurate and efficient scene size-up upon arrival at a vehicle incident. For crews desiring compliance with NFPA 1670, Standard for Technical Rescue Training, Chapter 6-2.2a, a vehicle crash scene size-up should include;

  • Scope and magnitude of the incident
  • Risk/Benefit analysis (body recovery versus rescue)
  • Number/size of vehicles and/or machines affected
  • Integrity and stability of vehicles and/or machines affected
  • Number of known/potential victims
  • Access to the scene
  • Hazards such as disrupted or exposed utilities, standing or flowing water, mechanical, hazardous materials, electrical, and explosives
  • Exposure to traffic
  • Environmental factors
  • Available/necessary resources

This Crash Course lesson uses the NFPA 1670 size-up points as they address one specific vehicle crash; a Saturn 2-door coupe into a pole. Review of the images provided will function to stimulate a "what if" discussion regarding each NFPA size-up factor and how they apply to this collision.

Scope and Magnitude of the Incident

Using the NFPA 1670 Standard as a guide, this Crash Course will review the NFPA size-up considerations that an Operations-level vehicle rescue responder should have mastery of. The first NFPA size-up point is the 'scope and magnitude of the incident'. Scope relates to the "size" of the incident; one vehicle in this case. Magnitude relates to the ability of the responders to handle the situation before them. This is a one-vehicle collision into a fixed object; a pole in this circumstance. Fire department, EMS, rescue, law enforcement, and a tow/recovery vehicle should be sufficient. Potentially a medical helicopter could also be utilized.

Risk/Benefit Analysis (Body Recovery Versus Rescue)

In this situation, the hit is to the passenger's front door. A seated front seat passenger would be in grave danger of serious or fatal injuries. This patient would be your 'recovery' operation. The rear seat occupants and the driver, if seated and belted, would most likely be alive at the time you arrive and would be your 'rescue' operation.

Number/Size of Vehicles and/or Machines Affected

This is a one vehicle collision. A typical arrival report might go like this, "Engine 5 is out, Main Street and Market Street, I have a one vehicle collision, major damage into a pole. Engine 5 is establishing Main Street Command."

Integrity and stability of vehicles and/or machines affected

This is an important consideration. The Saturn that essentially 'ate' this pole would probably be easy to stabilize. There should not be a problem accessing and shutting down the battery; it's under the hood.

Number of Known/Potential Victims

The rescue officer must work to determine the number of known or potential victims. Being a 2-door coupe, you would not expect more than 5 occupants to realistically be inside the car. As we all know however, there could be one victim or a dozen. Expect the unexpected. Be sure to check around the area and beneath the car to see if anyone was ejected or struck as a pedestrian.

Access to the Scene

Too many times rescuers try to gain access to trapped patients at the point of impact. This is where the vehicle is most crushed and least open and accessible. With this Saturn, there is good access along the driver's side door, left windows, the rear window, and actually even the passenger's rear window area. At least it should be possible to quickly make patient contact with any trapped occupants as soon as it it safe to do so.

Hazards Such as Disrupted or Exposed Utilities, Standing or Flowing Water, Mechanical, Hazardous Materials, Electrical, and Explosives

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