Everybody usually has some sort of New Year’s resolution. Maybe it was to lose weight, or get more exercise? Maybe it was to do something else? Whatever it is – good luck in achieving the goal(s) you have set out for!
I think something we can do as vehicle rescuers is to have some New Year’s resolutions to improve what we do. Yeah, I know this sounds hokey, but the new year gives us a chance to improve. This article originally started out looking drastically different, but I thought instead of focusing on negatives, why not use this to show some ways that we can improve.
One of the big areas we can improve upon is making sure we are doing this job as safely as possible. So, allow me to take a few minutes and talk about some simple things we can resolve to do better which will make us safer and more effective at vehicle extrication. These apply to both the training environment and real world incidents
Safety glasses – this is one of the most fundamental and important pieces of personal protective equipment, and there is really no excuse for not wearing them EVERY time we work around vehicles.
Removing trim and assessing before cutting – if you do not know what you are cutting, bending, pushing, prying, breaking, etc. you are playing Russian roulette with the vehicle. You need to properly assess the vehicle BEFORE any operation – or better yet, get a system that will help you identify where the rescue-related concerns are in the vehicle. Let’s not fall in to the trap of just blindly cutting.
Disconnecting 12-volt power supplies – In some cases (car up-side-down or wedged under a truck) rescuers might not be able to complete this; HOWEVER, in most cases, cars are sitting on four wheels with no obstructions to the front or rear of the vehicle. Please don’t forgot that disconnecting a battery is an important step in making the vehicle safe? It really does not take that long to accomplish this and among other things, it begins to depower SRS systems and as well as the shut down of alternative energy systems – both key safety measures that need to be completed.
Complete appropriate glass management – Today I use the term “glass management” as opposed to “glass removal” since the glass/glazing materials in vehicles are changing, however regardless of the type of glass, we need to assess and choose the correct method to make sure it is safely controlled.
Proper application and use of all our tools – we all need to work better at understanding our tools in general. This includes understanding capacity limitations, working load limits, safe [and effective] application, and the overall proper use.
We need to resolve to keep all these things in our minds as we approach ANY vehicle today – whether in training or in the street. Let’s be honest, if we are [or are not] doing something during training, we are [or are not] doing it in the real world. One of these days someone, maybe you, is going to get hurt because of not properly conducting an extrication operation.
This not only goes for rescuers, but also rescue instructors. Instructors have to lead by example and need to constantly and consistently reinforce these points in training.
Not only can we can to do it better. We have to do it better. Our safety and the safety of our patients depends on it.
Happy New Year!