Around the world, extrication is rarely carried out by a single agency so always requires Multi Rescue Agency Collaboration. There will usually be technical rescue, medical rescue and police personnel on scene. Furthermore, there may also be specialists arriving to isolate electricity, operate heavy lifting equipment, carry out collision investigation or maybe even an air ambulance to evacuate a patient.
Having an on-scene working relationship is one thing, but isn’t a training or preplanning relationship at least equally important?
When another agency arrives on scene you should know the following;
1. What do they expect from you?
2. What can you expect from them?
In order to work together more safely and efficiently, it is important to develop a mutual understanding of each other’s operating procedures, operational aims and limitations. This will reduce time on scene. Knowing how other services operate makes on-scene planning easier and will nearly always allow a swift conclusion.
This sounds fairly simple, yet in my experience valuable time and resources is wasted on scene because of the need to identify who will do what, how and when. Of course on-scene communication is vital to ensure safety, but I firmly believe that a close training and familiarisation strategy amongst the different agencies will add real value.
How can this be achieved?
Think back to the agencies that you have worked with during operational incidents over the last few years, and make a list. Give them a call, inviting them to visit you and suggest some joint familiarisation at first, with a view to some scenario training in the future. Have a look at their equipment, their procedures and how they train. Introduce them to your methods, systems and equipment and give them information to take away. Discuss operational aims and objectives; this is vitally important. During my career I witnessed very few ‘issues’ between agencies on scene. Those I did were simply down to a lack of understanding of each other’s priorities.
Remember to share these contacts and share the knowledge with other rescue departments, as this will be very useful to them. This does not only apply to extrication; rescuers work with many agencies at many types of operational incidents. So put the coffee on and send out the invites.
By Ian Dunbar – Rescue Consultant