Firefighters Practice Search & Rescue - 10/17/2006
On Tuesday October 17th, 2006 during our regular Tuesday evening training, firefighters practiced with extricating a victim, "George",
from the rear smoke filled room. The "room" was created by turning tables on their sides in our "BLUE" room. The lights were
turned off and the Nomex® hoods were put on backwards to simulate a dark smoke filled room. All of the pictures, except one, have been
altered to allow you to see what is happening. The only light was from the camera flash. Many SEARCH AND RESCUE details are carried
out in total darkness, in a smoke filled room, with fire burning near by or around the firefighters.
Just like swimming at summer camp, firefighters ALWAYS work with a "buddy". This way if one firefighter gets in trouble the other can assist. It also makes it possible to get victims out.
Searches are done, either, "LEFT HAND" or "RIGHT HAND". A dark burning building becomes a maze. By touching, either, the left or right wall, it is, usually, possible to go through a building and come back out where you went in. One firefighter acts as the leader, ALWAYS keeping one hand on the wall, calling out warnings of changes in direction, obstructions, etc. while the second firefighter ALWAYS keeps touch with the leader. The firefighters swing their arms and legs out to the side to fell for victims. Once a victim is found the direction is reversed, and maintaining contact with the wall, the victim is pulled back out the way the firefighters went in.
There were two scenarios for this practice. The first was a victim sitting at a table in the room. The second was a "downed" firefighter trapped in a hallway. The trapped firefighter's PASS device was beeping to indicate he wasn't moving and give a direction for the search team to follow.
To make it more real the firefighters in this exercise are wearing full gear.
Trainings like these allow firefighters to brush up on their rescue techniques, making them more efficient in real incident situations.
If you want to get an idea of what its like, go to friends house where you don't know the floor layout. Put on your heaviest winter snow suit, include heavy snow gloves. Put on a backpack filled with about 30 pounds of weight. Put on a diving mask. Put on a football helmet. Cover your head with a cloth bag so you can't see. THEN, with the lights out in the house, crawl around until you find the "victim" and pull them out of the house. This will give you an approximate feel for a Search and Rescue.
Putting on gear ready to "go in"
(Note the hoods covering the facemask to simulate total darkness and smoke)
Crawling down a hallway and around a room
Firefighters feeling their way around the room
Team 1 working their way toward the door on a "right hand" search, Team 2 starting a "left hand" search
Team finds "George" and prepares to pull him out
Team 1 searching for "downed" fire fighter - Encountering hall and obstruction - Chief gives advice
Pulling "downed" firefighter out of hallway
Team 2 assisting, getting ready to pull "downed" firefighter out - right hand picture lighted only with camera flash, not lightened