Extrication strategies in training

CarolinaFireJournal - David Pease
David Pease The Reds Team
07/25/2010 -

When you read this, summer will be upon us. We will have already suffered through several close to record-breaking heat waves. With vacations and the heat, it is just hard to get folks to train much during the summer months. The first weekend in June, we did a heavy vehicle rescue class in Lumberton through Robeson Community College, and it was hot then. We stopped several times during the practical work to make sure everyone was able to cool down and get hydrated. If you are training this summer, make sure you provide some shade for cooling your folks down, plenty of water and Gatorade, and keep an eye on folks so you can catch a problem before it occurs.


A good rule of thumb as to the number of vehicles you may need (during training), is to figure one door per student.

I have been talking about different aspects of vehicle extrication in my past articles and I have decided to look at some strategies in training for my next few articles. Most that know me, know I am all about training. How do we make our extrication training appealing to all of our folks? One thing to consider, if you train to the level of your more advanced folks, your newer people may be lost. If you train to the level of the new folks, then your advanced folks will be bored. If you follow either of these practices, then you are subject to lose your students when it comes to the next training session. This whole situation places you in quite a conundrum. You do not want to lose your advanced folks or your beginners, as they all have a part to play in the extrication response.

Another problem I see departments run into is not having enough vehicles to train on. If you only have one vehicle brought to the station to train on, then again, it’s easy to lose your folks in not having much for them to do. The question is how can we make this better?

We want to have all our folks come to training, learn and practice their skills, and then come back to the next training.

One thing that we all need to try and stay on top of is new car technology. This is an ever changing field that most of us struggle to stay abreast of. New cars come out each year, with new features and problems we may have to deal with as a rescuer. Have someone come in and do a class on hybrids and new technology. I would be willing to bet that most of your more skilled rescuers lack the knowledge in new cars and their features. We all need to be aware of the airbag gas cylinders that may be charged with 5000, and now 10,000PSI of pressure. Cutting one of these charged cylinders could result in injury or death to one of the rescuers. This class would be appealing to the novice as well as the advanced rescuers. The other plus is you can do it in the classroom where it is cool.

The next thing to look at is how many vehicles you have to train on. Unless you know the wrecker company real well, it may not be cost effective to have multiple cars pulled to your station. Your option here is to travel to the salvage yard, where they can set out cars and not have the expense of towing them back and forth. Most wrecker drivers really don’t like to go back and tow a vehicle after you have destroyed it in training.

When you set this up, have a neighboring department cover for you if you can. This way you can concentrate on the training at hand and not have to leave in the middle of things. A good rule of thumb as to the number of vehicles you may need, is to figure one door per student. If you get four door cars, then that would be good for four rescuers. If you have 12 to 15 students in your class, try and get at least four cars to work on.

Now you have to keep your advanced folks busy and give your new folks some hands-on learning time as well. Starting with the basics, let the skilled rescuers go first and show the new folks how to remove a door. We all have some slight differences in our techniques, so this will allow the new rescuers the chance to develop their own style. The thing to remember here is not to let your new folks be influenced by some of the “old school” folks and get tunnel vision. There is always more than one correct way to perform an extrication maneuver.

Your students need to learn how to remove a door starting with the latch first, but also how to do the same technique starting with the hinges.

Next time we will continue to look at ways to make your extrication training better and more interesting. Remember, it is all about learning, and sometimes we have to expand our horizons and come out of our comfort zone to make this happen.

Any comments or questions are welcome; you can reach me at [email protected]. Stay safe, train hard and work to be the best you can be.
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