One of the classes that our assistant chief and I taught was in Whiteville, N.C. It was a basic extrication class with around 18 in the class. We had classroom training on Saturday morning. Then we hit the field for a little basic hands on stabilizing. There were five vehicles we could train with, but we were limited on how we could move them. The only thing we had available was a tractor with a bucket on the front.
The first thing we did was place one of the vehicles on its side. We broke into several groups and each group had to stabilize the vehicle with cribbing and whatever was available on their rescue truck. They placed cribbing under the voids and then I showed them several ways to cable off the vehicle and leave room for extrication. We then did the same exercise using stabilization jacks, which did reduce the time involved, made the vehicle more stable, and more accessible to the patient. The more ways you know how to perform a technique, the better rescuer you will be. That pretty much wrapped up Saturday, so it was time to relax until Sunday.
We began Sunday with a little bit of classroom and then it was back in the field. This time the class had a slightly different challenge. I broke them into two separate groups, one that would be utilizing hand tools, the other would be using power tools. We had two small SUVs placed on their roofs for this next exercise. Both groups were then instructed to lay out the equipment they wanted to use. The hand tools group was allowed a reciprocating saw and all the rest of their tools were strictly hand operated. The power tool group laid out their hydraulics, along with several power saws. Both had quite an array of equipment showing.
Next came the fun part. My assistant chief was working with the hand tool group and I was working with the power tool group. We each selected four pieces of equipment they could use from everything they had put out, and that is all they would be allowed to use for this evolution. My assistant chief gave his group a reciprocating saw, a haligan tool, a socket set and a sledge hammer. I gave my group a hydraulic spreader, a hydraulic ram, a haligan tool and a reciprocating saw.
Their requirements for this evolution was to remove the roof and the seats, which would also require lifting the vehicle off of its roof. Both groups gathered their few tools and headed to the vehicles.
We had already covered some basic techniques for cutting, lifting and stabilizing so the challenge was on. Both groups finished their exercise in pretty good time. The big surprise was the hand tool group actually finished before my group, who was using the power tools. Both of the groups enjoyed and learned from the challenge we put before them. The hand tool group was really excited that they completed the exercise in good time, that they were able to do the assigned task, and they beat “my” group.
Again, this shows that even with little to work with, training can be made to challenge the rescuers and be a learning experience as well. The more you challenge the mind, the more your folks will think outside of the box, and when it comes to extrication, we need to be able to think outside the box. Tunnel vision only serves to reduce our capabilities and sometimes slow our rescue times.
I must say that their final class exercise was a bit more challenging. We had a full size leisure van upside down on its roof, with a pickup under the hood, and another SUV on top of the van. The only thing they had to do, was be able to cut the roof off the leisure van.
Well it’s time to wrap things up, so I guess we will look at how they did that next issue. Until next time, stay safe, train hard, and maybe we’ll see you at the big one.