August is one more month to catch up with in our review of my articles published in the "Firefighting" magazine this summer. In August issue of the magazine we have continued our sub-series on primary search culture, and this time we are covering the topic of victim packaging.
The article starts with giving an informal definition of victim packaging, which is "attaching handles to the victim so that he/she can be transported quicker and with less effort". We then proceed with a discussion of when the packaging should be done and when it can be skipped. The general rule here is this: you need to minimize the total time to bringing a victim to safety, so the heavier is the victim and the longer is the return path, the more time you should invest in higher quality packaging because it will save time during extraction phase.
Another topic we cover in this article is what type of extraction the victim might need and what kind of packaging is appropriate for each type of extraction. Generally, there are three types of extraction:
- Horizontal (within the same floor or horizontal surface)
- Diagonal (on staircases and ground ladders)
- Vertical (emergency high-angle lowering or raising)
Those involved in technical rescue might notice that this classification is somewhat similar to low-angle, steep-angle and high-angle classes of rope rescue. While in principle it is true, there is an important distinction – fireground extraction is performed in dire emergency conditions of a working structure fire, most often in IDLH environment, so this is certainly not a setting for building a proper rope rescue systems. Nevertheless, when it comes to packaging, we still use the same basic safety principles, specifically: resorting to vertical extraction only when all other options have been exhausted and packaging the victim for vertical extraction in such a way that he/she won't fall out of the harness regardless of the body orientation.
Another important requirement for all victim packaging methods used in primary search is that they should be based on gross manipulations and not fine motor skills so that they can be executed in zero visibility and in full structural firefighting PPE. Indeed, all the packaging methods I use and teach meet this requirement and we always train in zero visibility and full PPE to stay on top of our game.
In the article we present a step-by-step procedures for two such methods – a quicker one suitable for horizontal extraction and a form of "halo" harness that is good for vertical extraction because it forms an improvised Class III harness around the victim.
If you do understand Russian, you can either download and save a copy of the article in PDF format or you can view it right here on this page.