This weeks "quick tip" will be a little different from normal. It will be covered in a three part series so please do not scroll down and instantly think that steps are missing.
I think by now everyone can see that squad work is something that I have a passion for. However, I like to focus on the efficiency, speed of quality and thought out plans, and the power of a functional team. Due to all of the questions in regards to "how we operate", I want to cover our general "heavy rescue" plan with a staffing level of three. Below is a quick overview of the general operations for a Squad Officer on my rig. This layout works incredibly well for us, but may not work for everyone. Remember that with a total staffing level of 3 our officer is still a very functional part of our team and works in a "working" command until another unit can arrive on scene and establish a full and formal command. If the Squad is arriving further into the call, a formal command should be established prior to our arrival. In this case, our assignment is typically to the extrication group.
Request additional resources
The additional resources portion during response is incredibly important. Our dispatch center typically places Air Transport Units on standby. A heavy wrecker response is requested by the BATT Chief or Squad Officer. Be SPECIFIC when requesting a wrecker. If you need a Class D Rotator then call for it. Our protocol sends a 2nd set of Jaws on all "working" entrapments especially on Interstate 95. If you don't currently send a backup set of hydraulics on pins, your only 1 blown power unit from changing that protocol.
Scene size up
I truly believe that the scene size up begins at time of dispatch. The information that we receive during response from dispatch or on scene units will quickly assist us in our overall size up. With that information, we can begin to put an operational plan together. Once we arrive on scene, our full size up of the situation/hazards will begin. The size up will also determine the placement of our apparatus for safety of the rescuers and scene.
Pull select tool/ext. blanket & complete walk-around assessing hazards
Every shift my back step FF gets to choose the tool that he wants to operate. If he wants to get some hands on with the cutters, the choice is his. Once command is established, I help feed his hydraulic hose off the reel. I grab the other tool and one or two extrication blankets depending on patient numbers. From the minute I leave the truck, I am assessing hazards. The tool is placed on the extrication tarp and I make my way to the patient.
Make PT. contact-determine status/entrapment level
Patient contact is incredibly important. Remember the patient is the sole purpose of us being there. PT. contact will allow me to do a quick assessment and will dictate a "Clean vs. Dirty" rescue. At this point, I will call or stand down the Air Transport Unit and assess the level of entrapment determining our removal tactics. Use the extrication blanket to protect the patient from glass and remember to talk to "responsive" patients and offer them some realistic reassurance.
During walk- Take glass/check plastic/cut seatbelts
At this point, I will make a quick walk-around assessing hazards, take applicable glass, expose airbags by popping plastic and cutting seatbelts. REMEMBER to look under the vehicle for hazards and additional patients! Remember, a whole host of operations are simultaneously being completed by my crew (will be covered in part 2 & 3).
Choose Extrication Plan
Now it's time choose the best removal method based off of the information gathered from size-up, pt. contact/condition, and your size up.
All of the crew has quickly completed their tasks and have met back at the ext. tarp. The plan (IE. Plan A Side-Out) is relayed and we will efficiently put the plan into action. Leap-frogging will complete the task quickly and efficiently. After the patient is extricated, we will immediately assist with patient care.
This is a no brainer on any scene. The officer is responsible for the safety of his crew and the patient. The roadway is one of the deadliest places for a rescuer. DO NOT take the role of safety lightly.
Listed is a general playbook for our Squad Officers and again I say GENERAL. Each crewmember has a role that’s covered in the next two parts of this "quick tip" series. Don't forget to go back to the firehouse and discuss the good's and bad's. This is one of the best times to review our methods and is a great training opportunity.