Special / Commercial Vehicle Rescue Training Information

This information is provided for class sponsors to plan for and prepare for the Commercial Vehicle Technician Level or the Pennsylvania Department of Health Special Vehicle Rescue training program. The information has been compiled based on our experiences teaching this program many times in past years. We feel strongly that the resources noted are necessary to conduct a comprehensive training program. Please feel free to contact us to discuss any concerns, etc.


This program can be difficult from a logistics standpoint, however there needs to be enough vehicles and equipment for all students to have adequate practical skills experience. Program sponsors will want to begin making contacts for resources no less than six months in advance of the start of the program. These resources cannot be found as readily as cars.

Class sponsors should acquire the following based on 24-30 students:

  • Minimum 1 school bus or other type bus*.
  • Minimum of 2 medium or large trucks* – one of these should be a truck-tractor.
  • At least 2 cars to be integrated into the exercises.
  • The above vehicles will be cut-on/destroyed during the training program.
  • One piece of large/heavy construction equipment – will not be damaged, only for heavy lifting scenario.
  • Obviously additional vehicles will enhance the learning environment.


We will need 2 well-equipped rescues for 20-25 students for the final 8 hours of class. “Well-equipped” refers to rescue units that carry the minimum equipment identified in the PA Voluntary SVR2Rescue Service program at the operations level (advanced level is preferred however). Rescues will need to be “committed” so Chiefs should arrange standby coverage or dispatch procedures as appropriate.

Specifically, pneumatic lifting bags will be needed, as well as an overabundance of cribbing and other stabilization devices.


Each special vehicle rescue class has a pre-test and homework assignment that must be completed by the students PRIOR to the start of the class. The assignments and instructions will be emailed to the class point-of-contact approximately 4 weeks before the first class session and will need to be copied and sent to all registered students prior to the class. It is important to both the student and the class to complete the homework PRIOR to the first class session.



Class sponsors should contact their local heavy towing/recovery services to invite them to participate in integrated exercises on the practical skills day. We have found that these folks will usually jump at the chance to work side-by-side with rescue services. We utilize these services as they will be a significant resource to rescue companies in real situations, and training together affords the services with a comfort level and understanding of each others capabilities.


Based on our past experiences with the program, we find it both beneficial and important that students and agencies participate in some study and activities PRIOR to the actual class. These files will be provided to the class POC 6-8 weeks before the program and should be given to all students and agencies participating in the class. The pre-class assignments help with review of the items below in the weeks leading up to the class.


  • Conduct a general inspection and review of all rescue equipment carried by your agency. Make sure personnel are aware of equipment locations on the apparatus and the quantities of all items.
  • Lifting airbags – inspect lift bags and system for proper operation; verify capacities and capacity limitations; and practice using the system as a team.
  • Rigging chains – verify grade; inspect for proper construction, any damaged links and hook deformation.
  • Winches (mounted or portable) – Check wire rope for damage and that it is properly spooled onto the winch. Make sure that connection between winch and the hook are correct. Review operating instructions and capacities.
  • Review your department’s outside resource list. Do you have a resource list? Is the information accurate and up-to-date?
  • Review the mass casualty protocols and system used in your area/region.


Classroom facilities will be needed for each of the classes. In choosing a facility keep the following in mind:

  • Tables and chairs to comfortably seat all students.
  • An extra table in the rear of the room for instructor materials, equipment, etc.
  • Projection screen or white wall.
  • White/black board – although not required – are helpful.
  • LCD Projector and Computer with USB ports. **If you do not have these, we have access to them.


Class sponsors should arrange for lunches and break refreshments to be brought to the practical skills training area. Times, etc. can be flexible and can be discussed prior to that day. Please consider weather/temperature when planning food and drink items.

Special notes specific to the PA Department of Health Special Vehicle Rescue version of this program:

PA Department of Health DOH testing and EMS continuing education credits information:

Written DOH Testing: There is a written test for the PA DOH certification for this program. The written test occurs after the practical skills day. Since each ETA and EMS Council handles testing differently, at the conclusion of the program we will provide a roster of students eligible to complete the class and provide the agency POC to whatever entity is doing the testing. It will be the responsibility of the agency to arrange for written testing.

EMS Con-Ed: RescueTechs does NOT register programs for EMS con-ed. That is the responsibility of the sponsor organization or ETA. Because of changes to the EMS con-ed registration process, applications for EMS con-ed credits for First Responders, EMT’s, and Paramedics MUST be submitted no later than 30 days prior to the start date of classes. Most community colleges do NOT submit for con-ed credits. It is incumbent on the sponsoring organization to either submit for them (if the organization is a Con-Ed Sponsor) or contact a local EMS or other agency that is a Con-Ed Sponsor to register the classes. Also note that new policies by the Bureau of EMS in place do NOT allow for students to submit for credits AFTER the fact, so continuing education credits must be submitted for PRIOR to the class. (Note – if your program is being run through the Harrisburg Area Community College, HACC does register programs for EMS con-ed.)

Please note that we have no control over the varied ETA/EMS Council policies on testing and con-ed, and any concerns need to be directed to them.

Pre-requisite certificate requirement to attend SVR programs:

Any student attending a Special Vehicle Rescue class will be required to provide hard-copy proof of successful completion of the PA DOH Basic Vehicle Rescue program at the start of the first day of the class. This should be in the form of a copy of the Bureau of EMS issued certificate (note: community college issued certificates do not indicate successful certification of the DOH BVR testing process). Students who do not have/provide this will not be allowed to register and will be sent home.

Attendance Requirements: PLEASE BE SURE THAT ALL STUDENTS ARE AWARE OF THIS! There have been some attendance issues with students in classes in the past. So there is no misunderstanding, a student may only miss a small portion of the classroom sessions (ex: will be a few minutes late because of work) and NONE of the outdoor/practical portion of the program to receive credit for a program (and be able to complete the DOH writ ten testing). Make-up sessions are NOT possible.

Bottom line, If the students REALLY serious about wanting to learn the art of vehicle extrication, they will be present for the entire program.