With the implementation of the OSHA “2 in/2 out” rule, the subject of rapid intervention teams has been catapulted to the forefront of fire service discussions. A byproduct of all this attention has been an increased awareness of firefighter safety, self-rescue techniques and methods for...
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At this time, the hook/pulley is used to grab the downed firefighter at the shoulder straps behind his head (point C). With the rescuer on the ladder acting as coordinator, the troops on the ground are directed to pull on the rope (point D). The lone inside rescuer merely guides the downed firefighter toward the window so that the SCBA (of the victim) is against the outside wall.
With a 2:1 mechanical advantage on the line, there is a greater chance for success if not enough members are available outside and you are forced to use untrained civilians. (If civilians are used to successfully rescue a downed firefighter, is this a bad thing?) The inside rescuer straddles the downed firefighter, maintaining the victim’s position of his back toward the outside wall. As he is lifted off the floor, the inside rescuer grabs both shoulder straps in the front of the downed firefighter and leans back towards the center of the room. This helps clear the top of the SCBA bottle as he goes up and over the windowsill.
At this point, we are looking to get the center of gravity of the downed firefighter to the window only enough to “push him out.” The outside teams have a hold and he will not drop, as the rungs of the ladder create enough friction to make lowering an easy task. With practice, this evolution can be accomplished swiftly and in zero visibility.
There is no doubt that the safety critics will find fault with this setup. The muscular members of the fire service debunk this methodology as too time consuming – “If you are not strong enough to lift/drag your partner, then you don’t belong in the fire service” is a valiant and noble ideal; too bad it is just not realistic. If we train for the worst-case scenario, then we will be ready for whatever we face.
In the name of firefighter rescue, we should be prepared for the time when we are under-manned; everyone is on their second SCBA bottle; exhausted; wet, and the conditions are worsening. Our next installment will describe using the rope bag to remove downed firefighters through a hole in the floor.