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It seems that some departments do not stabilize vehicles prior to conducting extrication activities. Does your department have a Standard Operating Procedure in place that says a vehicle must be stabilized before cutting? If so can you post the SOP?

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This is not a part of our SOP's. The decision is left to the IC.
Thanks for your input Brother.
All extrication runs we run on we do stablize the vehicle in some manner if is using step chocks or letting the air out of the tires up to rescue sturts. Safety!!! Have to think about the safety of your members and the people you are caring for.
Our SOP is to stabilize all vehicles prior to doing any type of extrication. We also place cribbing under any vehicle that still has people in it even though they may not be entrapped but are still to be removed from the vehicle by EMS. A vehicle can move up to 4 inches without cribbing. Our rescue is very patient oriented. I will try and post the SOG once I find a copy of it.
Unfortunately at my department we do not stabilize vehicles enough. I try to advise my engineer that his sole job is safety which includes laying out a 13/4” line, positioning the rig for protection and stabilization. But this only happens in a perfect world.

There is one thing to remember and tell your members, that if you DO NOT stabilize the vehicle (especially when there is cutting involved), there is always that chance that the patient can come back and prove that further injury was caused by a lack of stabilization. Ron Moore does a great job explaining this and how important not only for your members safety, but for the safety of the patient in one of his lectures.
We stabilize at all times. It only takes 30 to 45 seconds to do, and could save the casualty a lifetime of problems.
Chris,

I was an expert witness for a wrongful death suit, and offer some personal advice. The one thing you do not want is to be a defendant because you failed to stabilize a vehicle in an non-emergent situation. Having worked with DOD personnel I have come up with (2) types of emergencies: Emergent and Non-Emergent.

Non-Emergent would mean the life of the responders and victims are NOT in immediate harm’s way. An example of emergent would be, but not limited to military personnel in a hot zone under fire. This would be a true rapid extrication scenario. And, we could come up with situations, especially after 9-11 that would also be appropriate in the civilian emergency services as well, such as building structure showing signs of immediate collapse.

If you choose not to stabilize in these situations, you have to be able to justify your decision and live with the outcome. When a case is being built, the attorney(s) will most likely subpoena all your department training records and SOPs/SOGs pertaining to vehicle rescue. The instructor(s) presenting the class/training may be asked for their credentials, experience and any lesson plan that was used. Paper trails and documenting training are very important. Departments should never allow the so called “paper drills”, I think we all know what I am referring to. Lawyers have a field day during depositions and cross examinations, the officer or instructor affixing their name will be held accountable.

The attorney will go to a recognized extrication standard(s) and compare protocols recommended by the standard(s) and that of your departments SOPs/SOGs. If an extrication task as important as stabilization is omitted from your SOPs/SOGs it will open up Pandora’s Box. I believe jurors are more sympathetic when policy, and a recognized standards are followed.
Should an agency’s member(s) deviate from your department’s SOPs/SOGs, this then can cause them personally be implicated. Your agency/township may not elect to provide you legal council because you failed to follow policy/procedure. It is imperative that members follow SOPs/SOGs, this protects not only your department, but the member personally.
In my classes I explain the lesson learned to this event, and tell every student in my basic skills class if you have a tool in your hand the vehicle best be immobilized and stabilize prior to extrication.

Common sense goes a long way, but if you need to cut, push or pry, you best stabilize a vehicle, end of discussion. If you do not, and an injury or death results, there surely will be a court case. Don’t be on the wrong side of the bench. Most people think responders are exempt by Good Samaritan laws; I believe this does not pertain to gross negligence.

As a suggestion, when writing policies, I feel it would be wise to have the township’s attorney review the document for proper wording and content.

I hope this helps,
Ron Shaw
When conducting any extrication there should be no doubt that you should stabilize the vehicle.Remember chock, block,and blow. Also when weight is added i.e. a firefighter or medic recheck stabilization or when weight is removed i.e. door or roof recheck stabilization. Everyone today has a camera or video on there cell phone a you can bet that there will be a lawyer looking to sue a fire dept.for failing to stabilaze a vehicle and causing further injury.
Ron very well put. I have always had a hard time trying to get my members to understand the legalities around not stabilizing before extrication practices. Thanks

Ron Shaw said:
Chris,

I was an expert witness for a wrongful death suit, and offer some personal advice. The one thing you do not want is to be a defendant because you failed to stabilize a vehicle in an non-emergent situation. Having worked with DOD personnel I have come up with (2) types of emergencies: Emergent and Non-Emergent.

Non-Emergent would mean the life of the responders and victims are NOT in immediate harm’s way. An example of emergent would be, but not limited to military personnel in a hot zone under fire. This would be a true rapid extrication scenario. And, we could come up with situations, especially after 9-11 that would also be appropriate in the civilian emergency services as well, such as building structure showing signs of immediate collapse.

If you choose not to stabilize in these situations, you have to be able to justify your decision and live with the outcome. When a case is being built, the attorney(s) will most likely subpoena all your department training records and SOPs/SOGs pertaining to vehicle rescue. The instructor(s) presenting the class/training may be asked for their credentials, experience and any lesson plan that was used. Paper trails and documenting training are very important. Departments should never allow the so called “paper drills”, I think we all know what I am referring to. Lawyers have a field day during depositions and cross examinations, the officer or instructor affixing their name will be held accountable.

The attorney will go to a recognized extrication standard(s) and compare protocols recommended by the standard(s) and that of your departments SOPs/SOGs. If an extrication task as important as stabilization is omitted from your SOPs/SOGs it will open up Pandora’s Box. I believe jurors are more sympathetic when policy, and a recognized standards are followed.
Should an agency’s member(s) deviate from your department’s SOPs/SOGs, this then can cause them personally be implicated. Your agency/township may not elect to provide you legal council because you failed to follow policy/procedure. It is imperative that members follow SOPs/SOGs, this protects not only your department, but the member personally.
In my classes I explain the lesson learned to this event, and tell every student in my basic skills class if you have a tool in your hand the vehicle best be immobilized and stabilize prior to extrication.

Common sense goes a long way, but if you need to cut, push or pry, you best stabilize a vehicle, end of discussion. If you do not, and an injury or death results, there surely will be a court case. Don’t be on the wrong side of the bench. Most people think responders are exempt by Good Samaritan laws; I believe this does not pertain to gross negligence.

As a suggestion, when writing policies, I feel it would be wise to have the township’s attorney review the document for proper wording and content.

I hope this helps,
Ron Shaw
Ron,
Thank you for your input and dedication to extrication. Perhaps you could attach a SOP that you wouldf utilize in a department that we can keep generic enough to work in any department.
Regards,
Chris
To all members,
Any SOP that involves stabilization would be greatly appreciated. Share with the group!
Chris Pepler
For us, it's imperative to stabilize the vehicle in any rescue operation that implies removing an injured pacient, either trapped or not. Furthermore, we don´t enter the vehicle if it's not properly stabilized in a primary way (mainly with chocks and step chocks)
The reason? The real possibilty of aggravating spinal injuries due to the wabbling of the unstabilized car, in other words, stabilization has a more patient oriented function rather than firefighting safety.

Best regards!

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