'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...


This is where the alert officer will quickly determine if it is safe to even be around the crash scene. With downed wires or a broken pole, the risk may be too great. A rescue officer would be wise to look up at any wires and cross arms attached to the pole that the car crashed into. You want to determine the integrity and degree of damage to the pole early in your incident size-up. A broken or dangling pole or loose wires contacting the car can make a radical difference in how this situation is handled. Summon utility company assistance as soon as you realize that there is a need.

Exposure to Traffic

Always one of our first safety considerations, safe parking of apparatus in a 'block' position begins to establish a safe temporary traffic control zone. The ambulance must position within this protected area. Many departments now respond two major apparatus to vehicle-related calls with the second unit primarily being charged with blocking of approaching traffic and advance warning.

Environmental Factors

The rescue scene size-up should take the 'environment' into consideration. Is this a daylight response; a night-time crash? It it extremely hot weather or is it a cold winter day? These are all environmental factors that influence how the incident scene is handled.

Available/Necessary Resources

The rescue officer should anticipate that stabilization is needed, that there may be jammed doors to be opened, that the crew may have to complete a total roof removal, and that the dash and firewall may have to be moved off a front seat occupant. The officer should make sure that there are sufficient tools and trained personnel to accomplish all of these potential tasks. Have enough personnel available to provide relief if this turns out to be a time-consuming extrication under tough weather conditions.

Crash Course Teaching Point: Study the size-up points listed in NFPA Standard 1670. They are a good starting point for training in vehicle rescue response and command operations.

  • 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

Be Informed...Be Ready...Beware!