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Confined Space Extrication?

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  • Confined Space Extrication?

    Just a question that poppped into my mind. What type of tolls would you use for a confined space extrication? Orbital SawZall perhaps? Hand tools? Wedges, pry bars? Idk, this thought just came into my mind.

    And do you carry anything on your rigs to prepare for such an event?

  • #2
    Wow, I think we could get a laundry list here.

    Like any other rescue/extrication, the tools are determined by the medium you must penetrate and any contaminants that may be present, but confined space rescues puts an additional element into the picture. Maintaining the environment.

    You would obviously try to avoid any tool that contaminates or negatively alters the environment. Gasoline power tools are probably out unless you can provide massive amounts of ventilation. CO addition, O2 consumption within the space, etc, can all be fatal to the victim if he/she does not have SCBA, and gas engines need a good supply of fresh air to operate. They can also raise the temp to dangerous levels over time, or even ignite explosive gases. You must also consider non-sparking tools in any potentially explosive environment. You always try to ventilate sufficiently, but the best laid plans often go awry.

    The standard electrical, air, and hydraulic tools are probably going to be on your list. Sawsalls, circular saws, air chisels, etc.

    As for the standard hand tools, use what works, but be aware that long tools may not fit or work as designed in a confined space. The expandable crash axe may be more useful than the haligan, etc.

    As for lifting and bracing devices, bags and hydraulics should work all the same provided the generators are outside the IDLH environment. You may need extension lines, and must be extra careful that they don't get cut or crushed by debris.

    Similar to Auto extrication, the best approach to confined space extrication is to remove the obstruction from around the victim, but if that isn't feasable, you may be stuck working in a tight little hole. You must be prepared to treat the patient as best you can throughout the rescue as well. Thermal blankets, cooling packs, O2, bleeding control, etc. You are often racing against hypothermia or heat disorders as well as the patients physical injuries.
    Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!



    • #3
      Wow, thank you, that was a great response, more then I was expecting. Your information is very useful, because when I become a FireFighter, one of my many hopes is to be a extrication specialist. Regardless it has always interested me.

      Thank you again, more responses would be nice too!


      • #4
        mcaldwell, great reply. There just isn't much more that needs to be said than what he covered.

        Stay Safe.
        "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?


        • #5
          Also some way to pump water out of trenches should
          be considered. The water table here is not too
          deep. Ive hit water just digging a post hole. Luckily
          I have not done a trench rescue but water would be one
          of my first concerns.


          • #6
            I agree - mcaldwell Great reply!

            One aspect you touched on (several times in fact) but I think could use some additional information is the environment of the space.

            If you are truly looking to be set up for confined space work you must be able to control the environment. Some of these items have already been mentioned but I'm going to hit them again (simply because I have a list in my head and if I start skipping around I'll forget something).

            You will need the equipment to test & measure the breathability of the atmosphere as well as test for flammable vapors.

            As already mentioned forced air blowers are also a good item but sometimes they just can't create a breathable environment.

            So . . . You will need special Supplied Air Breathing Apparatus (SABA) air packs (WITH Escape Bottle !!) and the related air source & supply lines. Short term Op's. you may use regular SCBA's but you have a very limited amount of work time before needing a bottle change. Also room to work while wearing even a low profile SCBA may be an issue depending on the space involved.

            As mentioned you must treat these Pt's. for similar conditions as found in auto extrication, however unlike typical Auto extrications confined space rescues can last for several hours to days. Since you can't move the Pt to a better environment, you must instead improve the environment around the Pt.
            Adding a heater to the forced air blower will go a long way to fend off hypothermia. Depending on the space and atmospheric conditions you may also use flood lights to warm the environment - use caution however in doing so.

            Confined spaces almost never have adequate lighting - therefore you must bring your own. Again you must be mindful of the atmospheric conditions and use the appropriate equipment. Glow sticks are good for initial size up until you can verify a safe environment.

            Also (as mentioned above) be mindful that incandescent lights = heat and in your tight environment burns may be an issue. Fluorescent lighting provides a bright & cool alternative.

            Pumps for water or other liquid product in the space (Thanks to firemanpat29)
            Sheeting & Shoring (like trench rescue) for solid product in the space.
            Spare PPE for the victim(s)
            Lock Out / Tag Out equipment to secure/control Industrial equipment while working in the confined space.

            OSHA defines a "confined space" and any space (regardless of size or volume) that is not designed for continuous human occupancy. Thus you could have a "confined space" large enough to put a house in (e.g. holding tanks on ocean bound petroleum tankers). It is therefore that Confined space rescue is a very special "animal". It shares so much with several other disciplines (High Angle/Rope, Haz-Mat, Trench, Urban Collapse Rescue, Auto Extrication, and the list goes on) yet it still manages to present with it's own special needs & hazards. It takes a lot of resources and a lot of $$$ to be properly equipped to deal with confined space emergencies.

            Emergency Aid agreements with your local businesses & utility companies can get you access to this equipment without you having to actually buy it.
            Take Care - Stay Safe - God Bless


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