Roadside interoperability

Roadside interoperability

In this edition of Fire Middle East, Neil Pedersen, CEO and Founder of International Road Rescue & Trauma Consultancy focuses on the fourth ‘E’ – Emergency medical services and how through changing our mindsets and through joint emergency service interoperability we can improve casualty survivability at the roadside.

Maj Gen Mohammed Al Zafeen, head of the Federal National Council and assistant commander-in-chief of the Dubai Police revealed that in 2017, authorities issued: 5,395 fines for exceeding the speed limit by more than 80kph; 56,633 fines for exceeding the speed limit by more than 70kph; and 100,296 fines for exceeding the speed limit by more than 60kph.

By contrast, in 2016 a total of 92,592 fines were issued for exceeding the speed limit by more than 70kph and 129,699 fines were issued for exceeding the speed limit by more than 60kph. However, no speeding fines were recorded for exceeding the speeding limit by more than 80kph in 2016, said the Ministry of Interior.

The fact that over 5,000 fines were issued for exceeding the speed limit by 80kph, “indicates that there is a huge problem that needs to be tackled,” said Maj Gen Al Zafeen.

According to the Department of Transport (DoT)road crashes are also the second leading cause of death in Abu Dhabi (behind cardio-vascular disease) and are the number one crash cause for young drivers. It is also known that road crashes are complex multiple factor events that typically result from deficiencies in human behaviour, road design or vehicle defects singularly or in combination.

The severity outcome of crashes is also determined by a number of factors amongst others the speed on impact and the use of secondary safety systems such as seat belts. The complexity of crash causation requires remedial measures to be equally multi-faceted and a wide range of different stakeholders and disciplines including Abu Dhabi Police,  Department of Transport, Abu Dhabi Municipality, Urban Planning Council and Abu Dhabi Health Authority are working together on the continuous reduction of road crashes, involving motorised and non-motorised vehicles as well
as pedestrians.

The problem of road fatalities and injuries is not unique to the UAE and in fact many other countries around the world face the same problems due to the fact that Civil Defense (Fire), Police and Medical responders have different priorities and equipment when it comes to attending Road Traffic Collisions. The Police priority tends to be enforcement and investigation, The Fire Service/Civil Defense priority tends to be the rescue and the Medical services is obviously casualty care.

All three services are highly skilled and respected professional responders but who receive varying levels of medical training and generally carry a means of providing some degree of medical intervention equipment ranging from a vehicle first aid kit to a fully equipped ambulance.

However, in relation to physical rescue capability it tends to be just the Civil Defense / Fire service that carry any type of vehicle rescue equipment which means in the event that the Police or Medical responders are first on scene that valuable life saving time can be wasted whilst awaiting the Civil Defense/Fire service to arrive to commence rescue operations.

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 and therefore a large appliance was required to transport it. This meant that it was not realistically possible to provide a portable rescue solution suitable for all types of vehicles.

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 any vehicle which will allow you to have an immediate rescue intervention on the scene of any accident or incident whoever is on scene first! 

Irrtc’s first response rescue kit

In the same way that the Civil Defense will generally carry a Trauma bag as a first response arrangement until the professional medical professionals arrive then it is now possible for both the Police and Medical teams to carry a first response rescue kit until the Civil Defense arrive. This now means that whoever arrives first on scene have the ability to make access into a vehicle and provide immediate medical care and if necessary, a rapid rescue.

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

Even in major cities 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 this can be much longer. Having an onboard rescue capability could literally mean the difference between life and death. After all, if you can’t access and extricate the patient then you can’t administer effective medical care.

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, or even attacks, 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 and other high strength materials.

Our team has many years of vehicle rescue experience and have witnessed numerous first-hand incidents where the Fire service/Civil Defense are the last emergency service to arrive on scene and due to lack of rescue equipment carried by other services there has been no attempt to release or create space to extricate the injured persons leading to significant delays in releasing trapped occupants with life threatening injuries. 

“Isn’t it time that all emergency services had the ‘capability of a rescue option’ and trained regularly together in order to save lives?”

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

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. Of course, additional dynamics like the severity of the incident, geographical location and time of day are all factors that can affect the problem. It must be borne in mind however, even with the odds stacked against you having both a technical rescue capability and a medical capability is not to be underestimated and will save lives. 

There are many examples where this combined technical/medical capability has not existed, and life has been lost. We can’t undo what is done, but we can adapt, prepare and be ready to react and respond better next time. Why wait for tragedy if you can play a part in reducing it. 

“Drive Carefully and As-salāmu ‘alaykum ”