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There are frequent situations with people trapped, where the rescue team is required to move or remove all portions of the roof to allow the occupants to be extricated. This University of Extrication column focuses on ensuring that all roof-removal options are considered – specifically, the ability to realize when a forward roof-flap evolution is a viable option and then being able to accomplish this task, which every rescue officer and crew should be proficient in.
There are several reasons why moving or removing the roof and not cutting either A pillar or the laminated windshield glass make sense. One example would be when confronted with stored gas inflators mounted on the front pillars. Their presence can complicate any A pillar cutting operation. Knowing that you might not have to cut the pillar to get the roof out of your way can be a valuable point to remember at an incident scene.
Another very good reason to consider this roof option is the scattered glass particles that are generated when windshield glass has to be cut. Regardless of how you accomplish windshield removal, it’s a messy job and presents a risk to patients and personnel. If there were a way to free the victim without having to cut into this glass, avoiding making all the mess near the patient and rescuers, then this again might be a good tactic to consider.
Modernizing the roof flap
The forward roof-flap evolution is nothing special. It’s really simply taking our original roof-“flap” evolution from the 1970s and turning it 180 degrees. Instead of cutting the A pillars and the roof rail on both sides and flipping, flapping or flopping the roof rearward, rescuers cut all pillars except the front A pillars. With “hinge” cuts made into the roof rail right at the windshield header, the crew “flaps” the roof forward.
For a trapped front-seat occupant, this allows almost the same amount of space above as if the roof were flapped rearward. For second or third-row occupants, the roof above them is removed regardless of which technique is used. The scene is a “cleaner” scene when the laminated glass does not have to be dealt with as well.
Rescue personnel should become familiar with this option. They should train until there is a comfort level with the specifics of completing this task. Armed with this experience gained through training, the rescue officer may just decide that this is the preferred technique at a future extrication incident.
This interesting technique along with all the other roof-removal tasks, is further explained on page 134 of the new, self-published book Vehicle Rescue 1-2-3. Accomplishing it as a crew meets the competencies of NFPA 1670, Chapter 8 as an operations-level task.
TASK: The rescue team shall move portions of the roof above simulated trapped occupants without cutting the A pillar or windshield glass by accomplishing a forward roof-flap evolution n