Extrication Zone

Applying FDIC Training to Your Fire Department

Firefighters perform extrication

By Jerry Knapp

You could tell by the dispatcher’s voice this call was serious. She was very professional but you could still hear the tension: Child stuck under a bus at a busy intersection. If this call was yours, how would you make the rescue? How would you lift the bus? You have lots of options: Air bags, spreaders, jacks. But what have you practiced? What experience do you have, and what is the recommended method? Do you know where the lift points are? Your experience with this specific scenario may mean the difference between life and death for the injured child under the bus.

The purpose of this article is to show you how to share valuable lessons learned from FDIC International with your members not lucky enough to attend. Equally important is this simple method can be used to roll that valuable training into your standard operating guidelines (SOGs) and annual training plan. Bringing back these experienced-based, take-home lessons also validates the training time and dollars your department invested. Now the value is not only yours, but every member in your entire department, now and in the future. Surely a couple of pictures and a couple of captions do not make a training session, but they can stimulate thought and discussion, and they may prepare your company for success when you are not there. The military calls this a trip report, a sharing of what you learned while Uncle Sam paid for your training.

Electronic Trip Report

You don’t have to write a book or a 10-page research paper. Simply use these steps. Use your cell phone to capture key operations, tools, techniques or steps while at FDIC International. If necessary, ask specific questions of the instructors so you fully understand the operation or skill. When you get back to your home department, select the appropriate pictures to describe what you learned. Add a few small captions and you can post it on your bulletin board at the firehouse, use it for a company drill, send it out electronically to your members, or all of the above.

RELATED: Air Bag Basics | Training Minutes: Air Bag ApplicationsAdvanced School Bus Extrication

For the bus example, it may look like this.

Patients trapped in vehicle

(1) Bus accident, victims trapped under bus and in car due to override. What is the best way to lift this off the victims?

Close up of bus wheel well


Possible solution (or your fire department’s standard operating procedure (SOP)): Lift using jacks or struts at bus frame (arrows). This is part of the frame of bus and is a solid lift point. Note chains under bus link jack bases that can be pinned into pavement. The extrication leader must coordinate equal/simultaneous lift on both sides for even lift of load off victims.

Firefighters prepared to lift bus during extrication

(3) Manual hydraulic pumps are placed so the extrication leader can see both from his position in front of the bus during the lift. Members must crib during the operation.

You can shrink the pics if you want to keep it all on one side or make it kind of a quiz, with the situation on one side and the solution on the other. Don’t be afraid to use pictures like these in your SOPs. The old expression that a “picture is worth a thousand words” is especially true with firefighters.

Creating this training venue and opportunity could be difficult for your home department. If it is even possible it will be time-consuming and maybe financially impractical. Using pictures you take at FDIC International and the skills and experience you gained from world-class instructors is a great way to prepare your department for both unique and frequent difficult rescue situations.

JERRY KNAPP is a 42-year firefighter/EMT with the West Haverstraw (NY) Fire Department and a training officer with the Rockland County Fire Training Center. He is chief of the hazmat team and a technical panel member for the Underwriters Laboratories research on fire attack at residential fires. He authored the Fire Attack chapter in Fire Engineering’s Handbook for Firefighter I and II and has written numerous articles for Fire Engineering.