1. #1
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    Default Roof-resting, Submerged, People Trapped!

    Received a narrative from a New York State fire chief regarding a difficult incident they had. I want to share this scenario with all of you. It provides good details that would allow you to discuss this incident and what you would do if it were to occur in your district. here is the information...

    "We had a very unusual car accident a week or so ago, and I wanted to run something past you because I have never heard of the proper way to deal with a situation like this. We had a single car accident on a rural stretch of road. Young kid went off the road due a distraction in his car of some sorts. He ended up upside down in a relatively large ditch that had several feet of rapidly flowing water. Somehow he crawled out the rear passengers side window by the time I got there (2 minutes from dispatch).

    He was relatively fine, but what bothered me was running through extrication scenarios while we were waiting for the tow truck and cleaning up the gas and oil slick running downstream. There would have no way to access the passenger compartment except for going in the back window which was partially underwater and had a fast current going into it. I wouldn’t have sent even my smallest of EMT’s in there with that amount of water rushing in.

    We couldn’t have stabilized the car with our z-mag system or rut struts due to the fact that both sides of the ditch were all soft mud and were several feet above the floor of the car that was now face up."

    My only thought was that we would actually have to winch the car out of the ditch with the patient inside to gain access if in fact the patient hadn’t self extricated.

    My reason for emailing you is this: have you ever practiced or do you have any SOG’s on how, when, and where to cut into a car if your only access is the underside? The hazards are numerous and quite obvious, but what if that is truly your only access point?
    Ron Moore, Forum Moderator
    www.universityofextrication.com

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    The winches on our Heavy Rescue and Hazmat units would be the simplest, if they could access and not make stability/position in the water worse.

    Complicated answer, though- If you have that much water in the car, and a firefighter in SCBA could get in there and access the pt. I don't know about pt care, but at least access. We have Scott RIT packs that might even work better than a harnessed SCBA, due to lower profile, having longer hoses, and having a simpler facepiece to work with.

    There are ways into the vehicle from the bottom, though, if you've got the time and the pt isn't drowning.

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    Interesting to say the least-

    Obviously we are going to be working outside the box on this one.

    I would say rapid extrication however we can pull pry the guy out. C-spine is out the window IMO. No difference then if the car is on fire.

    No sure on how the winch idea would work. We could possible put the car in a worse spot. However using it to stablize the car is an option (i.e keep it from moving down stream)

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    Quote Originally Posted by footrat View Post
    The winches on our Heavy Rescue and Hazmat units would be the simplest, if they could access and not make stability/position in the water worse.

    Complicated answer, though- If you have that much water in the car, and a firefighter in SCBA could get in there and access the pt. I don't know about pt care, but at least access. We have Scott RIT packs that might even work better than a harnessed SCBA, due to lower profile, having longer hoses, and having a simpler facepiece to work with.

    There are ways into the vehicle from the bottom, though, if you've got the time and the pt isn't drowning.
    A firefighter in SCBA and on a safety line could do a quick sweep to make sure the patient wasn't partially ejected before using a winch, I'd open the bypass valve for extra positive pressure. The RIT pack is a good call.

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    In training we have flipped a car upside down in a creek about 3 or 4 feet deep. It was narrow and we found that the best way to stabilize it was to cross struts in an X in the trunk. We just popped the trunk lid, set the struts, and ratcheted them together... easy when it was shallow, but in the slightly deeper water, we ratcheted the struts to the trunk lip.

    On a side note, the hydraulic tools do work in the water.
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    Quote Originally Posted by backsteprescue123 View Post
    In training we have flipped a car upside down in a creek about 3 or 4 feet deep. It was narrow and we found that the best way to stabilize it was to cross struts in an X in the trunk. We just popped the trunk lid, set the struts, and ratcheted them together... easy when it was shallow, but in the slightly deeper water, we ratcheted the struts to the trunk lip.

    On a side note, the hydraulic tools do work in the water.
    Depending on the state of the passenger compartment this may be a way to reduce the amount of water flowing through the car as well. Assuming the trunk is facing upstream the struts could be used to push the trunk up/engine down and angle the roof up enough to force the water to flow around the car instead of through it. Wouldn't be very effective if the windows were compromised, though.

    What if several sheets of plywood (or metal plates) were used as a base for the Struts/jacks. They could be held in place on the side with rods pounded deep into the mud. That should keep the baseplate of the struts from sinking, depending on how steep the bank is and where and how fast the water flow is (could it underrun the plywood?).

    Depending on how wide the ditch is long pieces of would could be used to span the distance.. though given the lateral loading I'm not sure how effective that would be.
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    Quote Originally Posted by voyager9 View Post
    Depending on the state of the passenger compartment this may be a way to reduce the amount of water flowing through the car as well. Assuming the trunk is facing upstream the struts could be used to push the trunk up/engine down and angle the roof up enough to force the water to flow around the car instead of through it. Wouldn't be very effective if the windows were compromised, though.

    What if several sheets of plywood (or metal plates) were used as a base for the Struts/jacks. They could be held in place on the side with rods pounded deep into the mud. That should keep the baseplate of the struts from sinking, depending on how steep the bank is and where and how fast the water flow is (could it underrun the plywood?).

    Depending on how wide the ditch is long pieces of would could be used to span the distance.. though given the lateral loading I'm not sure how effective that would be.


    Great ideas. The thought of the water being diverted around the car after stabilization hadn't cross my mind. Perhaps because in our scenario the vehicle was perpendicular to the water flow. The plywood or other material sounds like a solid idea too, but like you said, I wonder if the water could underrun it.
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    Winch, tow strap, rescue chain... whatever you got, I would yank the car out after confirming that a) person(s) are trapped and just forcing a door is not going to help, and b) they are not hanging out the window/doors.

    Technical Rescue is a medical call with a technical intervention. Some times it is the enviorment the patient is in, not their current medical condition, that will kill the patient first. With the scenario presented the water is going to drown them before injury from the wreck does them in. Move the patient out of the water, if that means moving the patient in the car then so it is.
    ~Drew
    Firefighter/EMT/Technical Rescue
    USAR TF Rescue Specialist

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