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    Lightbulb Hazmat RIT Procedures

    I recently received an e-mail from the Allegheny County Pennsylvania Hazmat Team with a new Rapid Entry procedure for providing emergency air to responders in Level A who are running out of air and cannot get out quickly for various reasons. Please provide your comments and ideas about the procedure and any procedures you may have for Hazmat RIT.

    Robert Burke
    Hazmat Forum Moderator

    Emergency Air Supply for Haz Mat Responders

    It’s a cold and dark evening and you have been working at a train derailment of Chlorine rail cars. You have spent nearly 20 minutes applying the “C” kit to the railcar dome of a
    Chlorine car lying on its side when the car suddenly shifts without warning. You are knocked to the ground and find yourself pinned under the weight of the railcar. A few seconds later, the quarter service life alarm on your SCBA begins to sound…

    This scenario could be all too real for any of us, yet how much time and effort is put into preparing for situations like these. With the recent explosion of fire fighter survival and Rapid Intervention practices in the last few years, it’s no wonder that such ideas have begun to spill over into the Hazardous Materials business.

    One of the serious issues that the Specialized Intervention Team of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania has take a look at recently deals with how to supply air to a responder in a Level A ensemble who is non-ambulatory and can not be immediately moved. After much thought and discussion…and a few pizzas, a method was forged.

    The method starts with a basic premise. 2 things have to happen to get air to the person inside of the Level A suit. First, air has to get into the suit while keeping chemical exposure to an absolute minimum. Second, the SCBA facepiece must be removed from the face of the Level A occupant to allow them to breathe the air we are putting into the suit.

    This was accomplished by modifying a 2216 belt mounted regulator SCBA and purchasing a pair of long nose aviation snips at a local hardware store. Start by disconnecting the low pressure “elephant trunk” hose from an SCBA mask and connecting it to the belt mounted regulator. Turn on the cylinder. Next grab a big “pinch” of suit. We found the area around the head and armpit to be best. With the fabric pinched, use the snips to cut a slice in the suit. Now push the end of the low pressure tube into the suit about 2 inches. Using one or two pieces of chemical tape or duct tape, seal the suit to the hose as tight as feasible. Crack the bypass valve on the SCBA slightly and begin to flow air into the suit.

    Now that fresh air is filling the suit, we need to remove the face piece from the occupant of the Level A suit if they are not conscious or can not do it for themselves. This is most easily accomplished by feeling through the suit or view shield and getting the palms of both hands under the chin of the mask. Now simply push the mask upward until it clears the mouth. You may have difficulty clearing the nose this way (without tearing someone’s nose off), but it is not essential since the occupant will be able to breath through their mouth at this point.

    Since the air is filling the suit and not going directly to the face piece. The occupant will be able to continue breathing even while cylinders are being changed. In this way, air can be supplied to the occupant of the level A suit almost indefinitely. We just haven’t figured out what to do when they need to use the restroom.

    Obviously, this is a last resort procedure and should only be used if the is no other way to remove the person from the Hot Zone area and their working air supply has become so low that they will be out of air before they can be extricated to Decon. In the worst case situation, the interior suit air will be an adequate air supply for 10-15 minutes, depending on breathing rate.
    Last edited by rburke; 06-15-2005 at 03:37 PM.

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    Arrow

    What happens to the suit integrity after pumping that much extra air into the Level A? Did you notice much expansion of the suit and if so, was it putting extra pressure on the seamed areas? Whas thought of putting an exhalation valve in the suit considered?

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    Lewiston2FF's Avatar
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    Originally posted by JT5034
    What happens to the suit integrity after pumping that much extra air into the Level A? Did you notice much expansion of the suit and if so, was it putting extra pressure on the seamed areas? Whas thought of putting an exhalation valve in the suit considered?
    All level A suits I have worked in have exhalation valves in place on the suit, usually on the head of the suit. A minimum differential pressure is required to open the flapper valve on the suit so that contaminants cannot enter the suit. The lack of an exhalation valve would make it very difficult to move in the suit after breathing for about 15 minutes because the suit would be filled with exhaled air.
    Shawn M. Cecula
    Firefighter
    IACOJ Division of Fire and EMS

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    The best way to handle this scenario is to not let it happen. The rail car should be stabilized before working on it. Second way would be for the back up team to complete the C kit installation. The way you describe would be my last choice.

    We also use 1 hour bottles whenever we use level A.

    Mike

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    Smile AlleghenyCo PA Team Reply to JT504

    We had consulted with our Dupont Rep about the one-way relief valves in the suits and with the relief valve opening at 1 psi, over pressurizing the suit did not appear to be a problem.

    When we practiced this drill, we controlled the amount of air going into the suit with the bypass valve on the 401's regulator. By keeping the bypass valve slightly cracked open, the amount of air flow and pressure to the suit was minimal.

    Jim Eaborn
    Commander
    Allegheny County PA Hazmat

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    I would be interested to see this done in a CS (tear) gas environment to determine it's effectiveness for the guy in the suit. You will find out in a hurry if there are any contaminants getting in.
    Sometimes, in order to make an operation idiot proof, you must remove the idiot!

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    You'd almost want to tape over the exhalation valves in the suits (like we all did in our HAZMAT courses to our comrades) in order to increase the interior pressure in the suit enough to effect that cut in the suit where you're going to put in your elephant snout. If your exhalation valves are equalizing pressure inside the suit, then I'd dare say you'll have minimum positive pressure in the suit. I'd also be giving some pretty heavy thought to cracking the bypass before I insert the hose.

    Mind you, I'm also giving some pretty intense thought to the fact that if I've got a friggin rail car sitting on top of me that my suit has already been compromised making the rest of the exercise quite a bit easier.

    Generally though, it's a very interesting concept and seems practical enough. I'd like to take a bit of a closer look at the vents on the suits to see if perhaps there is a way to get the air in there without actually cutting a suit. Additionally, how do you switch out bottles on the outside? That switch would have to be done in the hot zone- and there would be a small pocket of contaminated air blasted into the suit upon making the connection. Additionally, the elephant snout is just an open tube, so changing out the regulator itself isn't really an option... unless I suppose you hyper inflated the suit first and bought yourself enough time to change out a bottle- in which case you'd have the first problem.

    Tough problem- ultimately though, I agree with whoever said it shouldn't have happened. Then again- the word accidents was invented for a reason- and can't always be avoided. Maybe an earthquake hit the area... I enjoy the level of improvisation, however, and it has definitely motivated me to problem solve in similar ways... especially those involving pizza!
    Ian "Eno" McLeod

    Train Hard, Fight Easy

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