by Greg Turnell
Since the implementation of the Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) the portability of the RIT basket on the fireground or emergency scene has proven to be an arduous task. The average weight of the RIT basket with tools is more than 200 pounds, requiring four members to transport the basket from apparatus to the fireground. This process is fatiguing to the RIT members and presents the question of physical readiness of the team in the event a Mayday is declared. Firefighters have improvised and developed different techniques to more easily accomplish this task. There has been no piece of equipment created that addresses this dilemma that is versatile and non problematic. These concerns have compelled me to develop a better system to transport the RIT basket; the tool I have developed is a two-wheel cart referred to as the Turnell Universal Rescue Kart (TURK).
During a RIT operation, one firefighter can simply slide the basket out of its compartment and lock the TURK into position and completely remove and transport the RIT basket independently. The procedure requires no straps or timely maneuvers. The operator simply slides the TURK over the end of the basket, the weight of the basket binds with the TURK, keeping it secure. The operator rolls it to desired location quickly and simply.
While in the stages of development, I discovered that the TURK offers various functions for first responders when dealing with hazardous materials and mass casualty incidents but also has an application to law enforcement, specifically explosive, ordinance, disposal (EOD) teams and possibly the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).
Hazardous Materials. These incidents require the need for the recon group to move detection equipment and cumbersome tools into the Hot Zone. The TURK can be used in many of the same ways as the RIT basket but outfitted with hazardous materials equipment. If a firefighter becomes incapacitated he/she can be loaded into the stokes basket and wheeled to safety using the TURK, a great alternative to a SKED. The design of the TURK allows enough space between the device and a firefighter in a level A suit.
Mass Casualty. The TURK is fitted with a toe plate at the base of the wheels allowing back boards and collapsible stretchers to be secured. The top bar of the kart is equipped with two adjustable locking points allowing the TURK to adapt to most back-boards and collapsible stretchers. A patient can be quickly secured to the TURK and moved from triage area to a transport vehicle. The wheels of the TURK are 25 inches in width, allowing easy access up the ramps of most mass casualty buses. Incidents involving soft target areas such as a Metro subway station will have a high probability of becoming a mass casualty incident. Having several TURK devices already in place in these high target areas will assure an immediate means of patient portability on the scene. If the TURK needs to transport tools or patients in the tunnel the wheel base allows it to navigate in between the running rails within the Metro rail track system. A demonstration was conducted in one of Washington D.C.'s Metro stations to show the ease of transporting a RIT basket and patient using the TURK. One firefighter was able to remove the RIT basket from the fire apparatus and transport it down the escalator of the Metro station to the platform level, and then was able to transport a patient secured to a back-board up the escalator back to street level. This exercise would have required at least four firefighters to accomplish-it was done with one.
Department of Defense (DoD). The adaptability of the TURK to situations where manpower is limited and speed is crucial, such as a combat setting, is ideal. One soldier can deploy the TURK attached to either stokes basket or backboard and effectively remove an injured soldier to safety. What normally would require four persons to accomplish can be done with one.
Ladder Drag. Firefighters have always improvised and found different methods in which to make the job more manageable. One example of this is the ladder drag. Using the TURK in conjunction with the ladder drag is a practical option, simply place your hand tools and saws onto the ladder as you would a ladder drag and slide the TURK over the lower end of the ladder towards the heel. The TURK binds into a locking position onto the ladder. The concept is the same, however you are now performing a ladder roll as opposed to a ladder drag; a less backbreaking maneuver on the firefighter.
The TURK can be kept in a folded position on the stokes basket or stored in a separate compartment. The rescue kart is made of light-weight aluminum, rides on two "no flat" tires, and requires no maintenance. The TURK can accommodate both metal and plastic stoke baskets and most backboards and collapsible stretchers.
The simplicity of the TURK is its best attribute which subsequently makes its application to different situations possible.
The following points summarize the benefits of TURK and why it's a much needed tool for todays First Responders. The TURK:
- allows for one rescuer to transport the RIT basket from apparatus to emergency scene;
- is small and easily stowed in a folded position while attached to the RIT basket;
- is a means of transport for patients and equipment in contaminated areas where maneuverability is difficult in a level A suit;
- is decontaminable;
- is constructed of light-weight aluminum weighing approximately 30 lbs.;
- is equipped with "no flat" tires and requires no maintenance;
- is ergonomic, therefore possibly reducing fatigue and job associated injuries;
- has simplistic approach for patient transport from triage to transport area during a mass casualty incident;
- is maneuverable and easily used in different terrains;
- is small enough to navigate through most doorways;
- navigates up and down stairs and escalators;
- has a universal application for first responders;
- is a multiple use device designed and developed by a firefighter;
- is a cost-effective device; and
- most importantly the TURK works!
For more info, contact Gregory Turnell at 202-409-6159 or visit www.TURKrescue.com