Technical Rescue - Part I

The fire and emergency services have consistently exhibited their unique ability of overcoming adversity and meet headlong the challenges imposed upon them in satisfying the demands of society.


The fire and emergency services have consistently exhibited their unique ability of overcoming adversity and meet headlong the challenges imposed upon them in satisfying the demands of society. These demands translate themselves into the methodology and manner in which emergency services are delivered and the strategic and tactical disciplines that we adopt are assimilated.

The primary tenet which the fire and emergency service profession has traditionally focused upon is the protection of life and property. This is the basis from which we provide services to communities and jurisdictions. Of the many functions these emergency services entail, rescue forms the a major component within this multi-faceted delivery system.

Rescue is the top response priority of fire and emergency service agencies. Rescue unto itself can vary widely in its application and potential as an incident response factor. Whether as an aspect of a structural alarm response, motor vehicle accident or as a request for medical aid, rescue can entail a wide latitude of objectives and tasks and involve an extended operational and management effort in mitigating an incident.

The complexity of rescue responses can vary greatly. It is crucial that the incident be handled safely, effectively and efficiently based upon staffing training levels and maximizing the expertise and innovativeness of the operating companies and personnel.

Rescue has evolved from a basic fireground and emergency response factor to a specialized function in incident operations. The complexity and challenges facing the emergency services delivery system has gone far beyond basic structural fire, rescue and extrication capabilities and has extended into other areas impacting incident response capabilities.

Rescue has transcended traditional and typical functional areas and has lead to the development and integration of specialized technical rescue response teams.

Specialized technical rescue response capabilities have taken on an identity of their own as a recognized tactical component in the emergency response delivery system. In many instances, specialized tactical rescue capabilities have slowly developed due to identified community risk factors in incident responses or through specific incident occurrences that have brought to light the deficiencies and gaps within the jurisdiction.

The latter part of the 1990's has become somewhat synonymous with the development and integration of Technical Rescue and Special Operations. The continuous developments of the past twelve years have focused our attention and increased our understanding that, specialized operational capabilities were not only necessary, but required in meeting the ever increasing demands on technical based competencies, skills and enhanced capabilities for emergency services agencies.

Specialized Technical Rescue encompasses numerous discipline areas of operational deployment, and includes, but are not limited to the following:

  • Structural Collapse Rescue
  • High & Low Angle Rope Rescue
  • Rapid Intervention Rescue
  • Specialized Utility & Communications Tower Rescue
  • Confined Space Operations
  • Trench and Excavation Rescue
  • Below Grade Rescue
  • Industrial Extrication and Entrapment Rescue
  • Motor Vehicle Extrication Operations
  • Ice Rescue
  • Surface and Underwater Rescue
  • Hazardous Materials Rescue
  • Bio-Terrorism Rescue OPS
  • Wilderness Search & Rescue
  • Agricultural & Farm Rescue
  • Heavy Rescue applicable to air, rail and maritime
  • Urban Search & Rescue
  • Large-Scale Disaster Response Rescue
  • Terrorism/ Hostage Rescue OPS
  • WMD Related Rescue OPS

In the formal context, the need for specialized rescue response capabilities and structured teams can be typically drawn from the historical perspective of a community or jurisdiction, local and regional conditions and trends, capabilities and deficiencies encountered in incident operations and the degree of risk potential or actual risk present. All of these factors weigh heavily in the degree and level of preparedness that may be present or must be attained.

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