Vehicle Rescue Instructor Safety Guidelines – Part 2

SUBJECT: Safety During Vehicle Rescue Practical Skills Training
TOPIC: Implementing Safety Guidelines for Practical Skills Vehicle Rescue Training
OBJECTIVE: Develop and implement safety guidelines that address applicable NFPA standards for use when conducting practical skills vehicle rescue training sessions.
TASK: Develop and implement comprehensive safety guidelines for conducting practical skills vehicle rescue training using the sample guidelines and checklist presented in this series of articles.

Participant Training Orientation Session

Prior to the start of any practical skills training program, a mandatory attendance orientation session shall be conducted by the Lead Instructor for all participants. Attendance shall also be mandatory for assisting training personnel and observers. During this orientation session, the information in this guideline shall be presented and documented.

Once the participants and assisting staff personnel are present, the Lead Instructor shall establish and announce the overall operational procedures expected and required of all participants. This ensures that the vehicle rescue training session and all events that take place during the scheduled program are performed in a safe and efficient manner. The checklist format of this document accommodates ease of accounting that each critical item on the list has been addressed.

The following items shall be addressed and presented to all participants during the orientation session.

Incident Management Plan

  • Description of the procedures for utilization and implementation of an incident management system during the practical skills training program.
    All extrication scenario evolutions should be done under close supervision at ALL times. The training program management plan, the lines of authority and the on-scene chain of command shall be made clear to all participants in order that both the expected and unforeseen situations will be managed with the most efficiency, providing reasonable margins of safety for all concerned.
  • Description of procedures for implementation of a personnel accountability system for all personnel involved in the training program.
  • Description of process to rotate personnel and crews to reduce stress and fatigue.
  • Participants shall be advised that the anticipated practical skills training evolutions to be accomplished are psychologically and physically challenging and demanding. Any participants who feel that they are not mentally or medically capable of performing their assigned duties and functions during the training exercises are encouraged to identify their concerns to the Lead Instructor.

Hazard Assessment and Risk Analysis

  • Description and identification of any and all anticipated hazards and risks associated with the specific vehicle rescue skills training to participants documented.
  • Description and explanation of procedures for conducting vehicle rescue practical skills operations in a safe and effective manner while using appropriate PPE.

Training Area Sector Identification and Location

The following designated areas of the training site shall be defined and the location or boundaries of each shall be identified:

Hot Zone

The hot zone is an area immediately surrounding an acquired vehicle being used for vehicle rescue training and shall extend a minimum of 10 feet in all directions from the vehicle.

Persons allowed in the hot zone must don approved PPE during times that vehicle rescue evolutions are in progress. Entry into the hot zone is limited to working participants, safety officer(s), and training personnel. Other department personnel may enter hot zone with permission of the Lead Instructor.

Warm Zone

A warm zone shall be established to completely surround the hot zone. Rescue vehicles, and the tool staging area for all equipment to be used by the participants during the training exercise shall be located within this warm zone. A designated debris area for collection of components of the acquired vehicles removed during the training shall be located within the warm zone. The warm zone shall extend a minimum distance determined by the Lead Instructor in all directions from the vehicle(s) being used for the vehicle rescue training.

Entry into the warm zone shall be limited to participants, safety personnel, and training instructors during times that the actual rescue tasks are being conducted.

Cool Zone

The cool zone at a vehicle rescue training site begins at the outer edges of the warm zone. The rehab sector, including all rehabilitation supplies and personnel, along with any spectators and observers, and nonparticipating department personnel shall be located in this area during times that actual vehicle rescue tasks are being conducted.

Rehab Area

The Rehab area designated for rest and rehabilitation of participants and training personnel shall be established within the cool zone. This area shall be protected from the elements of weather and shall provide adequate fluid rehydration supplies for all personnel. Rest room facilities shall be provided within close proximity to the rehab area. Personnel managing the rehab area shall be identified as "Rehab" Sector.

Tool Staging Area

The area where all tools and equipment available for use by participants shall be identified by a readily visible means such as a large tarp. Designated as 'Staging', this area shall be located within the warm zone so to provide easy access to and from the actual hot zone where all training tasks will be completed.

Following each training task or scenario, participants are responsible for restoring tools to service and placing all tools and equipment in the tool staging area within the designated warm zone.

Personnel Staging Area

The area where teams shall standby along with their personal protective equipment awaiting further assignment or instruction from the Lead Instructor.

Command Post

The Lead Instructor shall designate an area within the warm zone that shall be identified as the Command Post. From this location, participants will receive assignments from the Lead Instructor. At the Command Post, teams of participants shall track their location on the training ground using an established personnel accountability tracking system.

EMS Sector

A designated EMS Sector shall be located at or in close proximity to the Rehab area. Certified emergency medical personnel shall be assigned to standby at this location throughout the duration of all training activities. The EMS personnel shall be available for immediate response to a training ground personal injury event. Equipment of minimum basic life support level shall be immediately available for use by the EMS Sector personnel. Communications with a medical facility shall be available. A medical transport vehicle or the means to summons a transport vehicle shall be available.

Debris Area

All debris removed from the acquired vehicles shall either be placed under the vehicle or removed to a designated debris area within the cool zone. Plastic warning tape or traffic cones shall be deployed to identify this debris area and keep unwanted personnel from entering this hazard area.

Next: The Safety Officer

Ronald E. Moore, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is the fire training manager of Plano, TX, Fire Rescue. He serves as the Forum Moderator of the University of Extrication section of the website. Moore is the author of the text Vehicle and Extrication Rescue (2nd edition), published by Mosby/JEMS. He can be contacted directly at