Why Fire Services must work with Recovery Agencies: Why fire fighters need to work closely with these recovery agencies during a heavy rescue incident.
Having spent many years developing and working in the rescue environment it has become very apparent that we should broaden our cross platform relationships with other emergency services.
Often we talk about a close working relationship with the Police and Medical teams, which is extremely important in aiding the progression of rescue for the general public.
When was the last time you thought about the other agencies such as recovery teams? I have been on numerous incidents where we have needed their assistance to carry out a rescue, but for most they are an after thought as we prepare for the recovery phase of an incident.
There are key points that we need to answer to allow for an extensive understanding, these include;
– Do we have such a facility (recovery team) local to our response area?
– What are the response time frames?
– Do we have a good working relationship with these teams?
– What or how much knowledge do we have about there capabilities and how can we assist.
A recovery agency on scene?
– What are the logistics of using such teams?
– Are they on any PDA (pre determined attendance) for heavy vehicle incidents?
– What local arrangements are already in place?
– Who will financially support these services?
These are but a few of the areas we need to take into account when considering recovery agencies.
Let’s analyse each one individually;
– Firstly, to make it a viable option one would suggest that a local recovery partnership should be formed, there may be one based several miles away, to think about this, we will have to wait for their attendance, with todays advancements in medical intervention and working practises (post hospital), we only have so much time available to wait for these experts to arrive on scene, remember that heavy recovery units do not travel at our response speeds.
– We have already mentioned that recovery vehicles are not as quick to respond due to many logistical factors, we must look at the resources we have available within our county and projected response times. Recovery vehicles that can use speed (e.g. Helicopters) are not always feasible.
– Good working relationships between recovery/rescue teams in a pre-incident environment. For most we train and work with the other emergency services on a regular basis and in most cases work very well together, but I ask you this, when was the last time you worked with a private recovery team? Do you know them? Are you aware of the working procedures they use? Are you fully aware in what they can achieve on scene? Again these are the many factors that need to be addressed.
– We make arrangements for these teams to attend incidents, but what do we actually know about them, do we just except that they will arrive on scene and make good the mess we face? Perhaps we should take some time and form a better relationship with these teams so that we can better prepare for their arrival and in most cases work with them to achieve a quicker resolve to the accident and to eradicate any chance of further disruptions to the public.
– To be able to effectively use these teams there needs to be a system in place to get them quickly to the scene of operations, what do you already have in place if anything, to make this happen?!
– How long into an incident is it before it is decided that they are needed? How much time has passed? Have we reduced the potential survival time of the casualty/s by increasing the rescue time?!
– One would suggest that heavy recovery teams should be added to the PDA for certain incidents? That way we have them on route if needed, this in itself can reduce rescue times, which is the basis for a better outcome in most cases, as in emergency services, the quicker the response times, the more likely that a fatality can be prevented.
– What financial arrangements have been made? Recovery agencies in some cases respond for free, if they are needed to carry out a rescue/recovery they claim back fees from the insurance companies. This would have to become a localised agreement.
There are many issues that need to be thought through and planned out. Its now time that we need to accept that these experts are actually a huge benefit to the rescue scene when heavy objects/vehicles have been involved, most have many years of emergency service experience and can advise emergency services on the best plan of action, they also have the equipment on hand and are experts in its use.
When faced with a large road vehicle in a testing position (on its side/angle) are we happy with managing a quick lift to free a trapped casualty. If it was a curtain sider or a tanker, would we know the best places to situate our lifting systems? Ensuring we do not compromise the integrity of the unit we are lifting, such as to puncture the side wall of a tanker, creating an environmental catastrophe.
In the pictures above, taken with the permission from “Heavy Rescue consultant John Coupland” at the Emergency Services Show, you can see how effective they are and what can be achieved, this HGV was being moved with ease showcasing the services they can offer, an excellent demonstration of the skills these guys have.
Vehicle recovery agencies should be involved in emergency planning. As much as we preach about interagency cross platform training with medical, police and other rescue services, we need to start bringing heavy vehicle recovery agencies into the fold.
Let’s work closely with these teams and get them on the road to all incidents involving heavy vehicles, they have the experience and equipment to greatly enhance our overall rescue capabilities, which should not be ignored.