Expert: RIT Training A Key in Preventing Maydays

Honing RIT skills is critical because Maydays are always called at the extremes and require special skills that are not used often.

The most vital and basic tools should be at the ready on tarps at the RIT staging area while the other, heavier equipment can stay on accessible apparatus that's close by.

With well-trained personnel identified and equipment secured and in place, the decision to deploy the RIT when appropriate should be made quickly and efficiently.

The incident commander will now have to focus on locating and extRITating the lost or trapped firefighter, while maintaining fire suppression to protect the firefighters on the rescue mission as well as the member in the Mayday situation. While it might not be easy, commanders will have to be prepared to "write-off" other part of the structure to focus on saving the firefighter.

According to a 2003 U.S. Fire Administration technical report "Rapid Intervention Teams and How to Avoid Needing Them," incident commanders need to practice continual risk assessment.

"Incident commanders should operate with the rule, "Do not risk a life for what is already lost,'" the report says. "Good training and self discipline will help prevent firefighters from needing to call a mayday, will better prepare them if they do face a mayday situation, and will prevent additional firefighters from becoming victims."