Exploring the options

Exploring the options

Even in major cities across the world it can take as long as 15-20 minutes for an emergency response to arrive at the scene of an accident from the time of call and, in rural or remote areas, much longer. Here Neil Pedersen of the International Road Rescue and Trauma Consultancy (IRRTC), calling on his experience after 28 years as an operational fire officer, considers the following question : Should other emergency services and non-emergency organisations be trained in vehicle rescue?

I know that the above question may initially promote uproar of ‘absolutely not’ or ‘that’s absurd’ or ‘that’s our job’ but I implore you to consider the question for a moment and then also consider the following:

Medical response worldwide tends to be a mix of varying level of expertise ranging from Trauma Consultants in helicopters to voluntary responders with limited trauma experience in their own vehicles but they all have one thing in common – they are trying to save lives.

Experienced operational fire officers recognise that emergency response can be affected by weather conditions, location of incident, road conditions, crew availability (Retained/Part time or volunteer stations) and also traffic build up.

Therefore, why don’t we at least consider the possibility of having ‘Rescue first responders’ who may be able to provide initial stabilisation of a scene, casualties and begin rescue operations until a full response arrives and the rescue is then transferred to them?

In many situations the police or medical services are on scene first before the fire service that then assess the situation and then mobilise the fire service leading to delays in rescue activities. If they had even a limited capability and basic awareness they could begin rescue operations in readiness for a full rescue attendance.

It is true that modern vehicles are stronger and safer than vehicles of years gone by but the flip side to this is that when these vehicles are involved in severe collisions then it is much more difficult to release any trapped casualties within the vehicle due to the strength of modern materials such as Boron steel or other materials. Our team has many years of vehicle rescue experience and have witnessed numerous first-hand incidents where the only way to release occupants is with the use of specialist hydraulic rescue equipment.

In relation to non–emergency organisations who work in remote areas or certain specialist industries, wouldn’t it make sense for them to have their own basic rescue capability as the timescales for rescue are certainly going to be extended?

In addition to this organisations would clearly benefit from training in Prolonged Field Care (PFC) which is a well-known approach in military sectors but not widely known or understood in civilian industries.

Ask yourself this question also – Does the injured person care which organisation rescues them as long as the rescuer is making their situation better for them and they are receiving professional and knowledgeable attention, good quality care and support?

Why hasn’t this been done before?

For many years it was only possible to have a sufficient rescue capability if you had a large hydraulic generator, hydraulic hoses and large heavy rescue tools. This meant that it was not realistically possible to provide a portable rescue solution.

However, advancements in hydraulic tool design and the advances in battery technology now mean that it is possible to produce tools capable of in excess of 50 tonnes of cutting and spreading forces that can now be combined into smaller and lighter tools without the need for generators or hoses. As a result it is now possible to have a state of the art rescue capability in your car which will allow you to have an immediate rescue intervention on the scene of any accident or incident.

With the right training and equipment you can literally have a Fire Service capability in the boot of your vehicle or support vehicle.

There is now a wide range of small powerful rescue tools which will permit rescue operations and greatly increase survivability rates by allowing rapid extrication of injured casualties whatever your location.

These tools and associated training will be particularly useful to the following sectors:

  • Corporate Risk Management
  • Emergency Responders
  • Organisations working in remote locations

However, in relation to using these tools it is vitally important that they are used in the correct manner and that personnel are familiar with the wide multitude of techniques employed during rescue operations. Failure to do so could result in damage to the tools or even worse – Injury to the users!

Medical vs physical rescue

The way to view rescue provision is to consider this; it has an equal weighting in relation to the problem. This means that ideally the methodology is fifty percent technical/physical rescue and fifty percent medical rescue. These two ideally work harmoniously with each other, to simply save life in the context of a vehicle accident. It must be borne in mind however, even with the odds stacked against you having a technical rescue capability and a medical capability is not to be underestimated.

It is certainly clear to us that when it comes to trauma field care then the military are the world leaders and when it comes to vehicle rescue then Fire and Rescue services are the experts.

IRRTC have brought together the best and most experienced instructors in both fields to help and educate others to help preserve life.

Military experience, humanitarian experience, professional rescue experience and exposure gained from operational functionality over a prolonged period. This methodology works, it gets results it can make a difference meaning it can save life.

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