1. #1
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    Question Firefighter Mayday / Search Techniques

    I'm an explorer and we've recently been practicing some room search (aka victim removal...search and rescue..etc), and also how to handle firefighter maydays. I understand this is a lengthy post...but I think that victim removal is one of the funnest/hardest and important topics to learn.

    We're taught to use the left/right hand technique. In a left hand search, we keep the left hand on the wall and search with the right. Vice versa. I would love to hear the opinions/tips/advice from actual career/volunteer firefighters so I can maybe get some better views on how to improve our search/firefighter mayday techniques.

    ON ROOM SEARCH:

    We always (for some reason)...train with a group of 4 for room search. How would you suggest we split the roles up? Normally we'll have one designated leader and 3 "firefighters". We will split up in two groups of 2 and one group will do a left hand search...while one group does a right hand search. Is that a good technique? Would it be better to keep all 4 explorers close together (as in...in the same room) so we can cover each room quicker?

    Also...a "concern" that I have is...we use a 175lb dummy. If we split up in groups of 2...there is no way on earth that two people could remove a dummy quickly/efficiently. We would have to find the other group of 2 explorers. Since people search at different speeds...it would be hard to determine where inside the building they were at. For all I know...they might have covered three rooms while we're still in room one (example: they're rooms are empty....ours has desks/junk/etc). Then we would have to wait until the other group came and assisted us in victim removal. Air is being used up quickly...and chances of survival are decreasing.

    Does that mean that searching with a 4 man crew is the way to go?

    We're taught that as soon as we find a victim...we go the "opposite" way we came in. Example: Started rescue operations with a left-hand search. Victim found. We'll exit through a right-hand search (essentially tracing backwards).



    I'm sure there are other searching techniques but these are the only ones that we are taught. What other search techniques are available and a good choice to use? What about using a tag line?

    We're also taught that we *should* (but doesn't always actually happen)...leave one explorer at the door of the room being searched and have the other three search the room. That way...they can spread out and eventually find their way back to the origin with the help of the firefighter at the door. What do you think about that?

    Also...a "best case scenario" would be a room with one door. How would you handle a room with two doors? Do you finish searching the first room? How would you know that which door was the one you came through? (assuming you didn't have anybody at the door....aka...searching with 4 explorers....or two groups of 2 explorers)

    Is there any good way to keep track of where inside the room you are? We use "WALL 1" as the first wall...and keep on continuing. What if the door is not in the corner...but instead of in the middle of a 4 wall room? Does that mean you will have a "WALL 5"?


    ON COMMUNICATION:

    For some reason...I always think that communication is what we can always improve on. How can you improve communication in a stressful...pitch black enviroment? I hate to yell because it uses up air...but sometimes...you have no choice.

    ON FIREFIGHTER MAYDAYS:

    What are some techniques that can be employed when a firefighter gets into a mayday situation? Do you find a wall and just keep on following it?

    ON BIG STRUCTURES:

    If there was a multi-story...large office building on fire w/confirmed entrapments...how do you search? The office could be "open" and could be huge! With the regular 30 min bottle...you probably wouldnt even have enough air to find (and then remove) the victim. How could a situation like that be handled?



    I know this is a lot of questions and I probably could have worded/organized it a little better. However, I hope I can learn some great advice from actual firefighters out there. Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Ill be honest, I skimmed over this post. The one point I wanted to make was on your 4 man teams. We also practiced with this, and several of us found this ineffective, at least in our area.. the rooms we would be searching for victims, essentially bedrooms on the upper floor, leading to a hallway.. bathroom, etc.. are not obnoxiously huge, and it would be horribly inefficient to stick 4 firefighters into that room when a 2 man team can get the job done just as quickly and easily, freeing those 2 other firefighters to search a different room.

    Also, I see an issue with putting all your guys in the same room, because, what if something happens? Collapse? Flashover? Now you have 4 guys toasted, instead of 2, and no one to quickly (minus RIT) come to their aid.

    Another thing, the doors. The way we train, we enter into the room via ladder (non ground floor, obviously), get into the room.. left/right hand search like you said, and if we come across a door, shut it. Do not go through it. Leave it to another team, or, when you finish that room, go back to it after calling it in.

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    Cool My Opinion.....

    We're taught to use the left/right hand technique. In a left hand search, we keep the left hand on the wall and search with the right. Vice versa. I would love to hear the opinions/tips/advice from actual career/volunteer firefighters so I can maybe get some better views on how to improve our search/firefighter mayday techniques.
    My .02 is take a second and look at how the room is designed; if the room is wider to the left then go that way 1st cover the most area while you're "fresh." Also, remember many victims are found within a 10' area from the main exits (it's natural for people to exit opposite of how they entered). Also, use technology to your advantage and use a TIC to help. If you don't have a TIC then do the searches manually. Another suggestion is to stop occasionally and listen for the PAS noise (RIC activation).

    We always (for some reason)...train with a group of 4 for room search. How would you suggest we split the roles up? Normally we'll have one designated leader and 3 "firefighters". We will split up in two groups of 2 and one group will do a left hand search...while one group does a right hand search. Is that a good technique? Would it be better to keep all 4 explorers close together (as in...in the same room) so we can cover each room quicker?
    If you want to split up a (4) person Crew there are many ways to do it..... 2 (2) person teams that "leak frog" each room, left/right wall searches like you discussed, tag lines, etc. For a standard residential bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, hallway and such honestly (1) FF should be able to check the room while the other member controls the entry way with a flashlight and forcible entry/exit equipment.

    A way that I find effective is to "leap frog" the rooms. When the (2) person teams are searching depending on the smoke conditions, if heavy smoke then (1) controls the entry way and shines a light along the wall to show the exit route. In light smoke, the same happens only quicker operation since some visibility may be used.

    If a victim is found, then the (2) person team works together to evacuate (if the window has been laddered and is the quickest route, then use it). The second team can either assist or continue in the search. The key is to take the quickest and safest route possible.

    Also...a "concern" that I have is...we use a 175lb dummy. If we split up in groups of 2...there is no way on earth that two people could remove a dummy quickly/efficiently. We would have to find the other group of 2 explorers. Since people search at different speeds...it would be hard to determine where inside the building they were at. For all I know...they might have covered three rooms while we're still in room one (example: they're rooms are empty....ours has desks/junk/etc). Then we would have to wait until the other group came and assisted us in victim removal. Air is being used up quickly...and chances of survival are decreasing.

    Does that mean that searching with a 4 man crew is the way to go?

    We're taught that as soon as we find a victim...we go the "opposite" way we came in. Example: Started rescue operations with a left-hand search. Victim found. We'll exit through a right-hand search (essentially tracing backwards).



    I'm sure there are other searching techniques but these are the only ones that we are taught. What other search techniques are available and a good choice to use? What about using a tag line?
    A 175 lbs. dummy is light compared to what an average FF weighs in gear. I'm a fairly fit 185 lbs. without gear..... My suggestion is to either pull the victim on their air tank or on their side; it provides less resistance on the floor due to reduced surface area resistance. And yes a (2) person team can move a medium sized victim quick and efficient, it just takes practice and technique. Webbing is also a great tool.....

    As far as where the other team is, that's why we have radios. As the victim is called-in if they're in a position to assist then automatically chances are they'll head your way. Don't wait for them to come to you, evacuate using the quickest route. You can always make the grab and continue the search, or whatever other assignment you may be given. Rehab is a strong thought here.....

    A tag line is good to use, especially when covering large areas. It also allows a person to remain stable as an anchor and the other person can pendulum around and cover a huge area quick. In a residential setting, use it in living rooms, master bedrooms, garages or any large area. Commercially, use it to cover a large area and also to go horizontally to search hallways that transition to large areas.

    My answer to how many persons would be based on what can realistically be sent on a search or RIC operation based on your manpower. We run (4) on our Engines and Truck but this may not work for your Department. Train and come-up with techniques that work for your manpower.

    We're also taught that we *should* (but doesn't always actually happen)...leave one explorer at the door of the room being searched and have the other three search the room. That way...they can spread out and eventually find their way back to the origin with the help of the firefighter at the door. What do you think about that?

    Also...a "best case scenario" would be a room with one door. How would you handle a room with two doors? Do you finish searching the first room? How would you know that which door was the one you came through? (assuming you didn't have anybody at the door....aka...searching with 4 explorers....or two groups of 2 explorers)

    Is there any good way to keep track of where inside the room you are? We use "WALL 1" as the first wall...and keep on continuing. What if the door is not in the corner...but instead of in the middle of a 4 wall room? Does that mean you will have a "WALL 5"?
    Again I like the (2) person team technique. Less manpower, less communication needed and spreads your manpower into 2 (2) person teams. I actually like the door control/orientater/communication person (however you want to look at it) at the door with a flashlight pointed at the last wall to be searched to show the exit route.

    As far as a room with a second door, typically in a residential setting it's going to be (2) adjoined rooms, a closet or a restroom. If you have a TIC then open the door and check it using the TIC. If you need to check the room (adjoined rooms) then call the other FF over to control the door and provide the exit route. If you find another search team then communicate with them and clear the room. If not, then search like you normally would.

    For some reason...I always think that communication is what we can always improve on. How can you improve communication in a stressful...pitch black enviroment? I hate to yell because it uses up air...but sometimes...you have no choice.
    If you're using a voice amplifier, then don't yell..... It only messes up and your message/communication won't be able to be clearly heard. I actually find that when I'm talking normal tone it works best. Pull the other person to you and speak into their ear as close as possible..... It works.....

    What are some techniques that can be employed when a firefighter gets into a mayday situation? Do you find a wall and just keep on following it?
    This is a great question..... A good RIC is dynamic and equipped. As the FFs move to the "A/B/C/D" sides the RIC needs to shadow the Fire Attack Team. RIC is not a rehab position. If they go above ground then (1) RIC FF needs to start throwing ladders (note the "s" at the end of ladder) so access can be made. During a RIC deployment follow the hoseline, enter the building from your updated position or go to the closest ladder and access the upper levels to make the grab. When you're deployed, notify the IC and the downed FF where you're gonna make access from (accountability).

    If there was a multi-story...large office building on fire w/confirmed entrapments...how do you search? The office could be "open" and could be huge! With the regular 30 min bottle...you probably wouldnt even have enough air to find (and then remove) the victim. How could a situation like that be handled?
    You search from your highest likely survivable areas to the less..... Why search a garage when you're told they may be in the offices? That kinda thinking. As far as how, use a tag line. Even with a 30 min. bottle you can cover a huge area. Here's another couple of ideas, set-up RIC bottles that are 45 mins. or go to all 45 min. bottles. This reason is again why I like multiple teams, search what you can and if needed start the other team. The second team will be able to search a deeper area since they know that the area has been checked. They move quicker until they reach where the initial team was. A tag line can also be left to speed-up the process to where has been searched. The initial team needs to quick rehab and get ready to be activated again, or may need to be substituted with other personnel.

    I hope this information helps..... Send me an I.M. with any other questions you have and I can give you some other tricks.
    "Be LOUD, Be PROUD..... It just might save your can someday when goin' through an intersection!!!!!"

    Life on the Truck (Quint) is good.....

    Eat til you're sleepy..... Sleep til you're hungry..... And repeat.....

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