Firefighter rescue is one of the most challenging situations you'll ever face on the fireground. The only event likely to be more challenging and stressful than performing a firefighter rescue is an individual fireground emergency. When faced with an individual emergency your ability to calmly deal with the situation will be your most difficult obstacle. When faced with rescuing a firefighter-teamwork, communication and focus will be the most difficult factors to control.
Firefighter rescue involves assisting and/or removing a firefighter from a troubled location or situation on the fireground. The rescue may be as simple as guiding the firefighter to the outside (safety) or as complicated as extricating the firefighter from a collapse or entanglement, securing his air supply with a new source, and removing him from the structure. Sometimes the complexity is based on the situation and sometimes it's based on a lack of preparation.
FIREFIGHTER RESCUE CAN BE BROKEN DOWN INTO THREE POSSIBLE SCENARIOS:
Whenever any of the above rescue situations are encountered on the fireground, the firefighter(s) performing the rescue must remain calm, communicate the situation, and use teamwork and previous training to resolve the problem.
ASSISTING A MEMBER OF YOUR OWN CREW
While operating on the fireground a member of your crew may run into trouble and require assistance. A simple entanglement, a low air supply, a partial collapse?or any number of other things may occur which cause the member to require assistance. Assisting the firefighter may be simple and allow your company to continue operations-or it may require you to issue a fireground MAYDAY while you attempt to resolve the problem. No matter what the situation, immediate assistance and rescue of the firefighter comes from the crew members operating with the member.
ASSISTING A FIREFIGHTER ENCOUNTERED DURING INTERIOR OPERATIONS
While performing on the fireground you may encounter another firefighter who is in trouble. Solving the firefighters' problem should become your number one priority but you must also communicate the problem to Command so that help (RIT) can be deployed. While assisting a firefighter encountered during interior operations will take precedence over all other operations, the original fireground functions (attack, search, etc.) must be continued or you're likely to become part of a larger problem. Tunnel vision during this type of rescue may jeopardize all firefighters on the fireground.
ASSISTING A FIREFIGHTER AS PART OF A RAPID INTERVENTION TEAM
Performing a firefighter rescue as part of a rapid intervention team is a fireground operation that will require precise communication, solid fireground skills, teamwork and, more than likely, additional rescue teams. The rapid intervention team operates under the most intense fireground conditions-a firefighter in trouble-and must locate, stabilize/package, and remove the firefighter (or crew). These stressful conditions (as with all firefighter rescue situations) require solid leadership and previous training if there is to be any chance of success.
A known emergency-a firefighter in trouble-active fireground conditions and a time-sensitive rescue mission all combine to make a rapid intervention team operation one of the most difficult missions encountered on the fireground. Training, preparation, and a proactive attitude (by both firefighters and the department) are essential components of any successful firefighter rescue.
WHEN WILL IT HAPPEN?
Indianapolis?Pittsburgh?New York?Worcester?Houston?Phoenix?St. Louis. There are many more cities and departments that could be listed. It's happened before and it will happen again. Has it happened in your department? Could it? YES!