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Extrication…  Is It All About Speed?

I got a chance to have a phone conversation with a fellow rescue instructor and he was telling me about a vehicle rescue class that he took as a student.  Getting the chance to do that every so often helps improve instructors by getting to see new and different approaches to extrication.  While not wishing to get into the particulars of the class, a good part of our conversation revolved around safety and speed at an extrication scene.  We both agreed that safety is paramount to speed.  This may seem like a theme that I address regularly but that is because I worry that we are trying to be too fast and are neglecting proper hazard assessment and control at extrication scenarios.  The reality is that a speedy rescue does not necessarily equate to a safe patient-oriented rescue. 

However, there are ways to reinforce BOTH concepts during training in a good way.  First, treat every training scenario as the real thing.  Even though you are physically standing in front of a 1992 Chevrolet Chevette (How many remember those things?), do the scenario as if the car was actually a 2016 Mercedes-Benz S550 Plug-In Hybrid.  Obviously the metal will react differently – I get that – but can you still teach hazard assessment – finding airbags, etc., and hazard control – disable the 12v battery?  After ripping trim away on the Chevette, make the students show you every place in a vehicle that they could potentially find SRS or the battery.  The biggest thing is reinforcing the thought process and making the student really think about what they are doing.  Likewise, keep practicing the cutting / bending / prying / breaking skills.  Teach your students multiple different ways to do something and then force them to develop an even different way. 

In doing this in some sort of repetitious fashion, the student will develop good and safe habits and good skills.  And as time moves forward their speed will increase in a safe way.  This is what we should be reinforcing!  (Not just blindly cutting as quick as you can…)

I penned an article about 2 years ago on more-or-less this topic.  It can be found here: http://rescuetechs.com/are-we-moving-too-fast/ or here:  http://www.hemmingfire.com/news/fullstory.php/aid/2241/Vehicle_extrication_-_are_we_moving_too_fast_.html

Some of you may have seen this previously but that’s OK, read it again to develop a good mindset for extrication.  I was going to say “take a minute to read the article”, but I will restate it as “take the appropriate amount of time to read and understand the article” …

Any questions, thoughts, comments, etc. let me know!   As always, I encourage you to share any of my messages/links/posts with your fellow rescuers to keep sharing and expanding knowledge!

Keep it safe (and enjoy the last few weeks of summer!)