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This method has several advantages to recommend it when severe conditions demand. By hoisting on the extremities, the arms are always extended overhead, reducing the body's profile at the shoulder area, which is the widest part of a body if the arms are down. The knot is exceptionally easy to apply. It can be tied and placed in under 30 seconds. Placing the knot around the victim's ankles and hoisting head down serves to anatomically align the spine, with the head placing "traction" on the spine with its own weight. This also ensures an open airway for the victim. If conditions permit, a backboard should be placed at the mouth of the opening, so that the member is hauled up, sliding onto the board. Then the member may be strapped on and safely transported from the area.
Two factors that repeatedly have shown themselves to be a problem are lack of planning for the emergency and allowing a "panic" mode to set in because it is a firefighter who is trapped. Training and drills in trapped firefighter removal help to deal with each of these problems.
John Norman, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a captain with the FDNY, assigned to Rescue Company 1 in Manhattan. He is also an instructor at the Nassau County, NY, Fire Service Academy and lectures nationally on fire and rescue topics. Norman is the author of Fire Officer's Handbook of Tactics, which may be ordered by calling 800-752-9768.