1. #1
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    Default rope rescue plus vehicle extrication PPE

    (Note: I posted this in the University of extrication Forum also, I'm hoping for a different perspective from this group.)

    We are looking at what PPE should be required for extrication where the vehicle must be accessed by the rope team.

    Our policy it that we wear structural gear for extrication. We also have a rope team that wears lightwieght wildland nomex for rope rescues.

    What should we do when the two are combined. Western Oregon being a mountainous area we have a lot of opportunities for vehicles to go off the road down steep embankments. This was the initial reason we developed a rope rescue team. Thus far we have not had to cut anyone out of a vehicle off the embankment, but it could happen anytime.

    I am responsible for vehicle rescue training, and I feel if your going in a wrecked vehicle you should have full structural gear on.

    Our rope rescue trainers main concerns are that bunker gear would cause over exertion and overheating, plus the harnesses don't fit over the bunker gear.

    Also It should be noted that our budget is extremely limited to say the least so buying a several new harnesses or lighter weight extrication style coat pants or overalls is not an option at this time.

    Thoughts anyone?

  2. #2
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    rescuedylan's Avatar
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    Budget...... yes that little thing that gets in everyones way, well unless you are the government and somehow you convince someone not doing their job right that you need this stuff to kill off terrorist! It would be my guess that you already have the helmet, gloves and boots (I dont think I would worry so much about the boots due to I would want my guys to be comfortable with footing). This maybe a good time to adopt new S.O.Gs that allow for a auto rescue to be done without the full turn out gear to be on while on rope. If it interfears with safety or the job getting done in a timely mannor then what ever that might be should be removed. I know you said money is a problem, but try looking up military surplus clothing for cheap overalls.

    Set your selfs SOGs instead of SOPs, that should give some wiggle room when it comes to an uncommon operation.

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    Don't have much to offer except that we're in the same boat. Just a few hours south of you in northern CA, our SOG's currently contradict each other... for awhile our rescue team was issued nomex coveralls as a sort of (budget friendly) compromise, but we've kind of unofficially migrated back to wildland gear. No way in hell you would catch me trying to rap in bunker gear, though the guys who can afford them have dedicated extrication gloves clipped into their harnesses. Interested to see what you come up with. On a slight tangent, we recently bagged a grant for the battery-powered Jaws multitool which is a whole lot more high-angle friendly than our old gas/hydraulic setup.

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    Our department recently bought a few extrication suits for members that are no longer interior, but still can actively participate in extrication. They seem to be a good compromise between the both worlds. They are much lighter weight that traditional firefighting gear and still provide flash, cut and bloodborne pathogen protection. Might be worth to check it out

  5. #5
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    Let me preface the following by stating this is merely meant to provoke thought. I am in NO WAY calling any ones opinions or beliefs "wrong".

    That being said - why require "Structural" PPE for a vehicle extrication incident? It is after all "Structural" PPE - we don't, or at least shouldn't, wear it for wildland incidents (interface incidents notwithstanding).

    Yes I understand about the various potential hazards such as flash fires, hot metal, cut protection, chemical protection, etc however I am a firm believer in the (acceptable) risk vs benefit model and I also think that there are situations where being less encumbered by PPE actually makes us "safer" because we can move faster to react to and/or avoid a potential hazard (not to mention the ever present heat stress & fatigue issues).

    To me (and based on MY level of acceptable risk) - the structural PPE does not mitigate any of the possible hazards with a level of benefit above the wildland or extrication PPE to warrant it's use when compared to the benefits provided by the lighter & less encumbering PPE.

    What you consider to be an acceptable level of risk may be different than mine and therefore your PPE choice may be different.

    I would suggest you amend your SOP's/SOG's to require a MINIMUM of wildland/extrication PPE unless other obvious hazards requiring full Structural PPE are present (active fire, Haz-Mat, etc.) in this scenario. That will then cover your department as well as allowing the member(s) to make educated decisions based on the level of risk they think is acceptable to them.

    I would further urge you to consider expanding this to all extrication incidents with the obvious exception of the members staffing the charged hose line who should always be in full structural PPE & SCBA. The increased mobility, reduced heat stress, and resulting reduced fatigue on your staff (especially at prolonged events) is well worth the change.

    Side Note - if you compare like materials (FR Cotton to FR Cotton, Nomex to Nomex, etc) you will find the specialty extrication suits (1 or 2 piece) are basically Wildland gear with built in Knee & Elbow pads (and various pocket options). So sticking with what you have now & simply modifying your SOP's won't have any affect on your budget.

    Hope this at least gives you more fodder for discussion.
    Take Care - Stay Safe - God Bless
    Stephen
    FF/Paramedic
    Instructor

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    This may sound bare bones to some folks but I wanted to throw my 0.02 in. We wear long pants, a denim jacket, gloves, helmet and eye protection. If we had to access a vehicle via rope we would add a class 3 harness....that's it.
    Stay Safe,
    Mike Donahue
    "Training Prepares You...For Moments That Define You

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