Emergency Search and Rescue Situations: Be Prepared is not just for Boy Scouts
When I attended my first boy scout meeting, they told us that the motto for the Boy Scouts is “Be Prepared.” I think of that every time I walk into the firehouse. In every aspect of firefighting, it is critical to be prepared.
Seconds count when a mother is trapped in a three car accident with two minors in the back and you need to cut the seat belt with a sharp rescue knife. Or, when the truck rolls up to an apartment complex in the bad part of town after a home intrusion situation before the police. Or, even when a few kids are playing on the frozen over lake and they find their way onto the thin ice and fall though.
Being prepared is not an option. It is a requirement.
As firefighters, we must always be prepared. It’s critical to have your equipment is top notch condition. Keep your axes sharp for forest or woods fires. Keep your multi-tool and emergency knife sharp so you can easily cut the seat belt that is holding the patient in the seat. This even means you need to keep your body prepared. If you need to be able to work in the field for several hours, then you need to have your endurance up to a high level. It is no accident that there are so many fire fighters that are endurance athletes.
Let me tell you a story about a rookie Firefighter I that we had in our station. He was a good kid, young, but he was a good person. He was only at our station for about 6 months.
Nothing too exciting happened and he was learning his way around the station. He was figuring out his place in the crew as well as the pecking order in the station. The wild fire season approached and we started getting more and more calls for small forest fires near homes.
There was a situation with a car accident near a fire. A family was trying to flee their home that was being threatened by a wild fire due to high winds and very dry conditions. The car accident was not especially bad but the family was panicking due to the fierce situation. The rookie approached the scene and was unable to free child who was simply tangled up in the straps of the seat belt and car seat. Evidently, one of the other children improperly strapped the youngest child in.
The rookie was unable to cut the straps to free the child. The captain approached within a minute and was able to free up the child before the fire approached.
When questioned later, it was determined that the rookie firefighter did not have the right kind of equipment with him. He did have a very sharp knife but it was unable to cut the seatbelt straps. If he would have simply spent more time keeping his knife sharp it would have been able to make the critical cut.
Quick List of Pointers
- Keep your gear clean
- Test your Equipment
- Knives and multi-tools
- Turnout Gear
- Ropes and webbing for Ice or Water Rescue
Think like a Boy Scout – Be Prepared. As a professional firefighter, you never know what piece of equipment you will need. Every call is different. Therefore, you need to make sure you have every piece of equipment is perfect working order.