National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System: Using Extrication Tools

Extrication equipment has become an essential component for most fire department inventories. The tools that make up today’s extrication complements are more light weight and more powerful since the tools’ transition from the racing industry’s hands to ours nearly forty years ago. Despite the progressive evolution, the tools will still tax the users when the extrication is protracted or complex. This week’s featured report takes us to the scene of one such extrication.

“We were dispatched to a reported MVC involving multiple vehicles…with extrication being required on all (4) vehicles… I jumped off the truck and went to the nearest vehicle. The woman inside was badly hurt and her car was a mess. It took a second for me to figure out how I was going to get her out of this vehicle.

Once we started, I found the other members of my crew were handling patient care and another driver was helping me with the extrication. We kept changing from the jaws to the cutters, back and forth, trying to get this lady out. After about 15 minutes, the tools were becoming heavy and I tried to use my body as leverage to help me hold up the jaws. When I did this, ignoring my training, I placed my body in between the vehicle and the tool. As I opened the jaws to separate the door from the vehicle, it pinned me against the car, placing a lot of pressure on my ribs…”

All of us have limits. While some of us seem to be indefatigable, others seem to run out of gas as soon as the engineer hits the maxi-brake. Report 10-869 describes a demanding situation: multiple vehicles with multiple extrications. Having to assemble the necessary equipment in a timely fashion, to perform multiple extrications would tax many departments. Therefore, we fall into a familiar routine: do more with less. The result is intense labor that leads to fatigue and acts of compensation that place us in injury producing situations. Once you have read the full account (CLICK HERE), consider the following:

1. As the first arriving officer of the incident in this week’s report, what would be your resource request to address a vehicle collision with entrapment in four vehicles?
2. Describe your course of action to handle the incident with the normal complement personnel on the apparatus you arrive on.
3. The reporter notes, “…ignoring my training…” in the minutes leading up to the near miss. Are there strategies and/or actions you take to prevent members from “ignoring their training” to prevent injury?
4. With the forces generated by today’s extrication tools, what is the range of injuries users may be exposed to?
5. Are your tools serviced regularly to ensure they are operating at peak performance?

Have you experienced a near miss while working with extrication tools? Submit your report to today so everyone goes home tomorrow.

Note: The questions posed by the reviewers are designed to generate discussion and thought in the name of promoting firefighter safety. They are not intended to pass judgment on the actions and performance of individuals in the reports.

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