Last evening I was glancing through some old pictures on my computer when I found this one that was sent to me several years ago. The particulars of this accident are not important however I am sure that most rescuers will look at this picture and have several concerns that are somewhat obvious…
This picture can serve as a good reminder that every rescue has to go in a certain order. There are certain things that HAVE TO BE DONE before anything else can proceed and when you get the steps out of order, things can go very wrong.
At some point in their training, every rescuer should have seen the graphic on the left, or a similar depiction, on how rescue should be performed. If you haven’t reviewed it recently, take a moment to look at the full circle.
From the immediate rescuer safety perspective, the most important of these is hazard recognition and control. If you notice in the graphic on the left, this occurs immediately after scene size-up and before anything else is done in the rescue. When we fail to recognize the hazards and take proper steps to mitigate the hazards, things can go very wrong and someone may get hurt (or even killed).
In the accident picture above, it almost seems as if the rescuers missed the fact that bystanders were [literally] performing vehicle stabilization (which is part of hazard control). Yes if you look close there has been some type of stabilization equipment put in place, but this is nowhere near adequate for the situation at hand. If this was a case of not having the correct equipment on scene to perform the rescue, that comes down to risk versus benefit – do you have the proper personnel and equipment to safely perform the extrication – and that is NOT an excuse for not safely performing rescue. (That means you need to call for the proper personnel and equipment to do the job…)
I see this many times in large/advanced rescue classes as well; rescuers become so focused on one small piece of the evolution that they fail to get the big picture as to what is going on at the scene. This is when the rescue steps get out of order potentially placing rescuers in dangerous situations.
A good thing for rescue crews to do, during those “tail board chats”, is occasionally review the proper sequence of rescue. It will remind everyone how important it is from the rescuer safety perspective to think about what and how we are doing things in the street.
Keeping things in the right order will help to keep us safe…