This week is Trench Safety Stand Down Week, sponsored by the National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA). So far this week we have taught two of our Trench Rescue Awareness programs for first responders, and today we are sharing a new blog post focused towards our readers that are trained to the operations or technician level in trench rescue. Our instructors are each sharing one tip with you related to trench rescue operations.
Instructor Larry – Scene Control and Management
Trench rescue incidents can become worse by rushing in and causing greater damage to the victim. There have been many cases of the “would-be rescuer syndrome” that afflicts the confined space field also occurring in the trench and excavation environment. It is important that the first-arriving responder establish command and start to take control of the scene. Remove would-be rescuers from the trench, shut down running equipment, and start to reduce risk by placing ladders and ground pads in and around the trench.
Instructor Bill – Shoring Operations
Remember the 2-4-2 rule of thumb. Your top and bottom struts should be placed no more than 2 feet from the top and bottom of the trench wall. There should also be no more than 4 feet between each strut. When dealing with an 8 feet deep trench, two struts will theoretically be sufficient based on this rule. However, consider using three struts even in an 8 feet deep trench for added safety, especially if operating in the recovery mode and not in rescue mode. Do not risk a rescuer’s life to recover a dead body.
Instructor Rob – Equipment Retrieval
Once the patient is removed from the trench, rescue teams will typically want to retrieve their equipment, especially if they were using pneumatic struts for their shoring. Take a deep breath after the extrication is complete, and mentally prepare for the removal of equipment from the trench. If you used pneumatic struts to complete the rescue, your team may consider installing wood struts adjacent to them in order for the pneumatic struts to be removed safely. No matter how you decide to handle the equipment retrieval, do not let your guard down, many hazards will still be present.
The Elder Technical Rescue Services, LLC Instructor Team