Tropical Storm Isaias Flooding

Thank you to all the first responders on-duty as Tropical Storm Isaias has been rocking the East Coast today.  Special shout out to the Southeastern PA first responders in our neck of the woods.  Take a look at the graph below from the National Weather Service Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service.

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The graph shows that the minor flood stage for the Chester Creek near Chester, PA starts at 8 feet, and the height today reached into the major flood stage range at 17.1 feet.  It also shows how quickly the water is going to recede over the next 24 hours.  Remember, as the water recedes, the threat of differential pressures developing increases.

Differential pressure is caused by two bodies of water equalizing (i.e., flood water entering a storm drain).  This differential pressure can develop thousands of pounds of force and pull first responders under water.  Read more about this topic in one our earlier blog posts – Lessons Learned from a Water Rescue LODD.

We offer Flood Rescue Awareness (3 hours) and Flood Rescue Skills Development (12 hours) classes.  Contact us today to set up a class for your agency.

Stay safe!

Bill Elder
Owner / Lead Instructor
Elder Technical Rescue Services, LLC

GORUCK Rigging Bag Overview

We recently switched up our rigging bags to two GORUCK GR0/GR1 rucks, and we wanted to share our set up with all of you.  If you are not familiar with GORUCK, please check out their web site.  The long and short of their company is that they were founded by a former Green Beret and they manufacture some fantastic gear in addition to hosting rucking events that will push you and your team members beyond your physical and mental comfort zones.

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I have been wearing my GR0 bag (pictured above, right) for several years and after some experimenting, decided to acquire a newer GR1 bag and make them rigging bags for ETRS technical rescue courses.

Here are the contents of each bag:

5 – Carabiners
3 – Tri-Links
1 – Swivel
1 – Rigging Plate
1 – Double Pulley
2 – Single Pulley
2 – Sets of Prussiks
2 – Descent Control Devices
1 – ASAP
1 – Work Positioning Strap
1 – Anchor Strap
1 – Set of Fours
2 – Lengths of Webbing (15′ and 20′)
1 – SMC Flex (Edge Pro)
1 – 3″ Fire Hose (Edge Pro)

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Each bag has some slight variations in specific makes and models of the equipment.  This allows us to introduce our students to different types of equipment on the market and discuss topics such as NFPA 1983 ratings.  For example, one bag has steel G-Rated carabiners, while the other has aluminum T-Rated carabiners.  We also have a variety of descent control devices (Petzl ID, Petzl Maestro, ISC D5), work positioning straps (Petzl Grillon, Kong Trimmer) and sets of fours (Petzl JAG, Aztek Kit).

The bags remain remarkably light and ergonomical and allow students in our small group classes to split up and accomplish their rigging objectives without breaking their backs.

Check out our Rope Rescue Operations – Blended Learning program or private rope rescue training sessions if you want to do some training and check out our bags in person.

Bill Elder
Owner / Lead Instructor
Elder Technical Rescue Services, LLC

Case Study: Trench Rescue Near Miss

The information in this blog post comes from the FireFighterNearMiss.com.  To read the full near miss entry that was submitted, click here.

What Happened:

The fire department was dispatched to a trench collapse, with reports of two people trapped.  The first-arriving engine company arrived and spoke to “experts” that were on-scene at the construction site.  According to the experts, shoring was not required.  The engine company personnel entered the excavation and began working to free the only trapped individual (the other had self-extricated prior to their arrival).

When the battalion chief arrived on-scene, he/she established a command presence and ordered everyone out of the excavation.  Luckily, everyone was removed, apparently including the patient.  Moments later there was a secondary collapse of the remaining excavation wall.

11-24Source: IFSTA

Analysis:

Awareness level training is paramount!  According to NFPA 1670, emergency services organizations must identify hazards in their community.  If there is a chance their members will be dispatched to a technical rescue incident, the organization must at a minimum provide awareness level training to its members.  In this case study, the engine company personnel either did not have awareness level training, or their training was inadequate.  Luckily, the battalion chief was able to identify the hazard of a secondary collapse and evacuated the trench.

Any time there has been a collapse of an excavation or a trench wall, there is always the possibility of a secondary collapse.  How many times have you seen workers inside trenches with the trench boxes sitting outside of the trench (pictured above)?  While we sometimes must rely on “experts” that are on-scene, we must also realize that we are there for a reason.  Specifically, something has already gone wrong!  Often that something went wrong because the expert on-scene was either not educated on the hazard or chose to skip the appropriate safety measures needed to mitigate the hazard.  We must critically analyze the information provided to us when performing our size-up to ensure our members and the patient remain safe.

Please contact us if your emergency services organization needs Trench Rescue Awareness (3 hours) or any other awareness level training!

Bill Elder
Owner / Lead Instructor
Elder Technical Rescue Services, LLC

Pre-Planning Elevator Rescues, Part 2/2

Elevators are incredibly complex machinery systems, and they are also one of the more common causes of machinery rescue incidents in urban and suburban areas.  One strategy for improving your agency’s response to elevator rescue incidents is to get out and start pre-planning the elevators in your community.  In this post, we are going to finish up discussing some of the information that can be included in an elevator rescue pre-plan.

Type of Elevator System(s)

The two broad categories of elevators are hydraulic (buildings < 6 stories) and traction elevators (buildings > 6 stories).  Within each of these broad categories there are many variations.  It is important for first responders to understand the basic differences and hazards associated with each elevator type.  Knowing the elevator type may also help you locate the elevator machine room.  Which leads us into our next piece of information.

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Location of the Elevator Machine Room(s)

Securing the power to the elevator is one of the most important steps to take when performing an elevator rescue.  Unfortunately, there are still many first responders skipping this step.  Pre-plan the location of the elevator machine rooms in your buildings, so that you can quickly and efficiently secure the power when called upon to perform a rescue in an emergency situation.  Keep in mind, some elevators are being built now as machine room less (MRL) systems.  These elevators may not have a traditional elevator machine room.

Location and Type of Elevator Keys

There are two types of keys first responders should be concerned about: the fire service key and hoistway door key.  The fire service key will allow first responders to recall the elevators to a designated landing (typically the lobby) using the Phase 1 recall.  Some departments will have possession of these keys, while others will have to rely on retrieving them from the facility at the time of the incident.  The other keys first responders should be familiar with are hoistway door keys.  Hoistway door keys allow first responders to open the door leading into the elevator from the floor.

Do you include any other information in your elevator rescue pre-plans?

We include a section discussing elevator types and hazards in our Machinery Rescue Awareness (3 hours) class.  For more in-depth information related to elevator emergencies, check out Dragon Rescue Management, Inc.

Bill Elder
Owner / Lead Instructor
Elder Technical Rescue Services, LLC

Pre-Planning Elevator Rescues, Part 1/2

Elevators are incredibly complex machinery systems, and they are also one of the more common causes of machinery rescue incidents in urban and suburban areas.  One strategy for improving your agency’s response to elevator rescue incidents is to get out and start pre-planning the elevators in your community.  In our next two posts, we will talk about some of the different sections you may want to include in your elevator rescue pre-plan.

Elevator Maintenance Company

This is one of the most important pieces of information to pre-plan.  Ideally, removal of occupants from a stalled elevator should be performed by the elevator maintenance company.  Even when an emergency situation exists and first responders must perform the rescue, it is still important to ensure the elevator company has been called.  At the very least, the elevator company will need to make any necessary repairs and place the elevator back in service.

Location of the Elevator(s)

Facilities may have multiple elevators located in different parts of the building.  These different elevators may each serve different floors and/or may even be different types of elevators.  If a 911 caller says that they are experiencing a heart attack in elevator three, do you know where elevator three is in that building?

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The pictures above show elevators 1 – 3 in an office building.  The elevators, mainline disconnects, and car light switches are all labeled accordingly.  However, it is also important to realize that this building has three additional elevators labeled 4 – 6.  Those elevators are on the other end of the building and have their own elevator machine room.  Pre-planning the locations of these elevators can help save time when someone is trapped in the elevator and experiencing a medical emergency.

Next week we will discuss some additional pieces of information that should be included in an elevator rescue pre-plan.

We include a section discussing elevator types and hazards in our Machinery Rescue Awareness (3 hours) class.  For more in-depth information related to elevator emergencies, check out Dragon Rescue Management, Inc.

Bill Elder
Owner / Lead Instructor
Elder Technical Rescue Services, LLC