By Tony Carroll
It’s the first Monday of March, so time for a new Mayday Monday. During the month of March, we celebrate Irish heritage, and one of the fabled irish-characteristics is LUCK. The ‘Luck of the Irish’ is not a good plan for firefighter survival, however.
A recently released NIOSH firefighter LODD report illustrates when the rapid intervention team (RIT) plan was luck. The firefighter who died was from a company that was assigned as the RIT but refused the job as “we don’t have the equipment for RIT.” Fortunately for him, a team advancing a hoseline into the basement came upon him. He was removed in cardiac arrest. Unfortunately, he succumbed to his injuries several days later. Here is a link to the NIOSH report (PDF).
Do you have a plan for when you are assigned as the RIT? This month, let’s train on the plan. Get out the Standard Operating Guideline book and review the plan with your crew. Then set up a drill to practice the plan. “Hide” a downed firefighter in the station and have a Recon Team search for the firefighter. Once they locate the downed member, have them package him/her and call for help to remove the firefighter. The RIG Equipment Team will deploy and assist the Recon Team with removal of the downed firefighter. If your RIT/RIG plan includes the use of a search rope include that in your drill. Remember to practice with all of your equipment. This will help ensure we are not depending on luck to rescue a trapped firefighter.
Don’t forget to send pictures of you and your RIT/RIG practicing this month’s drill to [email protected]. Thanks and see you in April.
Tony Carroll is a captain with the safety office of the District of Columbia Fire & EMS Department.