Looking for some ideas here. Loaded tour bus strikes passenger car then veers off road and travels up embankment on high speed highway taking a pick up truck along for the ride and pinning it against the hill. Bus ends up with bumper about 6' off of highway surface. Passenger side downed a tree completely and dug into the hillside pretty good. Driver side was in mid air on arrival. Driver trapped and critical, 54 passengers (all senior citizens) require removal. Lets hear some ideas on stabilization. Any new uses of struts, etc...? Where are the strong points on the side of a tour bus?
Never worked a tour bus. Low pressure air bags are not a bad choice for large voids as we found doing school bus drills. Of course, nothing beats a good box crib if you can get enough lumber to the scene.
Strong points on the side I would suspect to be in the area of the floor of the bus. Below that is normally hollow luggage storage and above is passenger compartment. The floor runs the length of the vehicle, so it should provide acceptable support for cribbing.
Halligan, I saw and read about that accident. What a mess.
In that situation, you had some pretty unusual circumstances to deal with as you describe with the position of the bus. The design of the bus as Engine69 points out puts strong points at the floor level on the sides, the front, back and roof. Because most coach (tour) buses have a curved roof, there is structural support in the rounded corners where the roof is rolled over the side. I believe it's actually thicker at that point. It's not much different in construction than a school bus, and we all know how strong those yellow beasts are in spots.
I think if you box cribbed the front and rear really well with 6 x 6 lumber and some 4 x 4's, and shored up the sides, it would be pretty stable. I don't think stabilization struts would help too much, they would probably sink into the dirt unless you could anchor them somehow. The one thing that always concerns me about heavy vehicle rescue is the top heaviness and in predicaments like the bus, a collapse zone should be employed around the bus. Even if the bus is stabilized on the hill, people should not be working in the roll over or collapse zone, just in case something slips. I am not a big promoter of stabilizing vehicles with air bags (they are designed for lifting) but until you get something more substantial in place I don't see why not. Another suggestion would be to have a few Heavy Duty towing companies respond to the scene. These guys are experts at securing large vehicles and are an excellent resource on scene. They can usually strap a large vehicle down and rig something up with their recovery trucks to stabilize the situation. Flatbed wreckers work well when dealing with evacuating passengers out of the windows. Stand on the flat bed and have it positioned next to the bus. Now you have a working height platform to work from.
Hope I didn't monopolize the topic. I'm sure there are other ideas. Let's hear 'em.
Rescue Lt. Kevin C. (aka Pokey)
Pokey - I'm generally not a big fan of stabilizing with bags either. In this case the bags were there when we got there. They did a great job given the situation. The bus had to be stabilized immediately due to the number of people and the position of the bus. Box cribs were added, but a question that arose is how strong are the underside of the luggage compartments? We knew the floor was strong, I was wondering how using the struts to the top edge of the open luggage compartment would work. It did look like a mess but ran very well. The bus was evacuated in about an hour or so, this included the difficult extrication of the driver who was critical. I agree with the critique point regarding the tow truck. We watched them sling it to get it off the hill and it was pretty impressive. Its probably something we don't consider too often.
I blasted right past the tow truck with a sling concept. I have been involved in a rescue where a tractor/trailer dump truck fell over and pinned a driver. The local heavy wrecker service came to the scene and used a sling to get the truck off the victim. Was quick and easy to deploy. Certainly would be a good choice to consider here.
I also agree that airbags are not the best option... but you did what you had to which is what we all do in these situations.
I'm sure I'm going to get flamed here but I got Kevlar.I did not see this wreck but my suggestions may apply.First do you have a heavy towing service in the area that you can work with and trust?If you do,start working with them.Generally they know more about tip/hook up points than most FF's.They love to help but most trained operators are reluctant to get in the way.Look for Wreckmaster Certification,It means the operator has had ongoing professional training.Involve them in your training program,and let them adress yours.In teaching heavy extrication,this is a point I bring up often,Hyd tools usually don't work as well on heavy stuff,because of a lot of logistics.A couple of trained towers can make your life a lot easier if available.To see if a Wreckmaster is available in your area go to WWW.WRECKMASTER.COM.For heavy stuff a operator of level 4/5 or higher is preferred.Hope this helps.
For stabilizing a motor coach, the strongest areas of the undercarriage are the areas from the axle supports out towards the ends of the coach. The lighter construction of the area between the axles makes it much less suitable for stabilization.
Be Safe! Get Home! Twostix