Large-diameter hose serves as rescue and containment device

Large-diameter hose serves as rescue and containment device

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The means of providing effective water rescue for large numbers of potential drowning victims can be as close as a fire department’s apparatus hose bed.

A 5-inch lightweight hose (with a polyester fiber jacket, a Zuristaflex outer layer and a polyurethane inner layer) with unisex couplings forms the basis of a rescue and flotation tube (called RAFT by the Metro-Dade Fire Department, the originators of this rescue device). After testing, drilling and fireground use, the hose proved to be leakproof, easy to handle, impervious to oil and highly visible at night because of its yellow color.

A standard cap is inserted at one end of the 5-inch hose, and a modified cap, fitted with a female quick-connect coupling, is inserted at the other end of the hose. A 40-cubicfoot SCBA cylinder, fitted with a standard nitrogen regulator on its high-pressure side and a 3-foot pressure hose with hydraulic male quickconnect coupling on its lowpressure side, provides enough air to fill 100 feet of hose in approximately one minute.

The RAFT is coiled with the standard cap at the center of the coil and the modified cap at the outside. The RAFT is then placed in the water, and the 3-foot pressurized hose is inserted into the coupling on the modified cap. Air from the SCBA cylinder inflates the RAFT, causing it to uncoil in a straight line. Tests show that 10 psi makes the hose fairly rigid, while 5 psi allows the hose to be more flexible.

To add additional sections of hose to an already inflated RAFT, one end of the RAFT is crimped by a hose clamp or kinked by folding in order to prevent air from escaping while the modified cap is removed, the additional length of hose coupled, and the cap fitted to the far end of the now added hose length, making, in effect, a 100-foot RAFT.

Victims who cannot swim can pull themselves along the RAFT to shore. The RAFT also provides excellent buoyancy, allowing a victim to sit on the hose and have his upper body out of the water, Injured victims can hold onto the hose until emergency personnel are able to treat life-threatening injuries and transport them to shore,

The RAFT also can be looped, making it a valuable tool for spill containment, Since oil cannot penetrate the RAFT, the RAFT can encircle a spill, which can then be pumped off the water’s surface.

To breakdown the RAFT, a male quick-connect coupling is inserted in the modified cap’s female coupling. This allows pressure in the line to bleed off, preventing injury if couplings are disconnected while the hose is charged.

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