Mayday Monday: RIT Air Pack

Mayday Monday

By Tony Carroll

Hello, June. Maybe it will finally start to warm up. Here in the nation’s capitol, it is a struggle.

In May, we marked the anniversary of a tragic fire that occurred in Houston, Texas. On May 31, 2014, the fire at the Southwest Inn killed four firefighters that day and has since taken one more member. Captain Bill “Iron Bill” Dowling succumbed to his injuries this past March. During the rescue of Capt. Dowling, members used the RIT air pack to provide a continuous air supply while they worked to free him. The situation was so bad that the rescuer who worked to attach the RIT air pack was forced to remove his own SCBA.  Are you ready for this scenario? Let’s work on it.

This month’s drill is to volunteer a member to play the role of a down firefighter. Dress him or her out and have them hide in the firehouse with the PASS sounding. The rescue team (who has vision obscured) will search to locate the “down firefighter.” Once they find the target, have the rescuers address the air issue. The issue can be an empty cylinder, a face piece problem, or a missing regulator. After the air has been secured, the team will prepare the “down firefighter” for removal. Then repeat but with a different air problem. NOTE: If this is the first time practicing with the RIT air pack, you may not want to block the rescue team’s vision.

Now get out and practice. This could save a life. Remember, please send in pictures of you and your crew performing these firefighter survival drills. Send to mayday.monday@dc.gov. Thanks, and see you next month.

Tony Carroll is a captain with the safety office of the District of Columbia Fire & EMS Department.

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