As a first responder and technical rescue instructor, confined space rescue is one of the scariest rescue disciplines that I teach. Many confined space fatalities were “would be” rescuers, meaning they entered a confined space to do well but instead became victims themselves. Even though I emphasize this point again and again in my confined space classes, I still shudder when I think about how many first responders are potentially out there in the field with no confined space training.
For those of you with previous confined space rescue operations training, let’s take a look at a typical confined space rescue set up for a vertical entry out in the open. You may not always have this much space to conduct your rescue, but we can use this photo to review some key tips.
Air monitoring and positive pressure ventilation are being conducted continuously. Performing air monitoring around the space and then inside the space are some of the first tasks to accomplish at a confined space incident! The multi-gas detector is actually clipped to the cover of the confined space that is secured in the open position. This frees up a set of hands to assist with the rigging or another assignment. Make sure to periodically test and document the atmospheric readings at various levels in the confined space (recommended every four feet).
The tripod is extended as high as possible. This allows for more than enough space to remove the patient. This is especially important if using a Sked stretcher for your extrication device. There’s nothing more frustrating than having your haul system totally collapsed but finding your patient still half way in the hole!
The resultant of the haul system is kept inside the footprint of the tripod. In this photo, this is accomplished using a change of direction at the base of the tripod. This allows the haul team to raise and lower the load a safe distance from the confined space. The belay line, which you can’t actually see in the photo, is also running directly to the load without going through the tripod.
Owner / Lead Instructor
Elder Technical Rescue Services, LLC
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