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  • water rescue

    I'm looking for tips, advice, or known recources<br />regarding RAPID shallow water extrication.<br />Concerned with air supply, tool usage and techniques.Roadside canal scenarios involving <br />VIABLE pts., NOT full blown dive team/ body-<br />recovery. Thank You for any assistance!!!

    Lt. D Brown <img src="confused.gif" border="0">

  • #2
    I'm not trained in water rescue, so this is pure speculation. Don't SCBAs work to a depth of 15 feet? Could you conceivably use a standard airpack to make a quick rescue from a vehicle in shallow water?
    Bryan Beall
    Silver City, Oklahoma USA


    • #3
      I don't have a lot to offer here but I'm kind of using the same scenario as one of my arguments for getting some of the DeWalt 24-volt sawzalls for our vehicle instead of the 110AC Porter Cable hunks of crap that we have now.( I apologize to any PC lovers out there, but the DeWalts are more versatile and so much faster to change blades on)<br /> I know it's not much good on completely submerged vehicles but might on partially. Hope that may help as far as tools go.


      • #4
        Enjun1, You asked a difficult question. I do not know of printed resources dealing with auto extrication in water. Where I work we have dozens of ponds, canals, waterways and a river with fast current during the spring. We have practiced with a vehicle almost completely submerged in 3'of water (pond) and have found that are Hurst equipment (spreaders, cutters and combi tool)will work under the waters surface. The biggest problem is seeing or feeling what you are doing. Life jackets and safety ropes are a must on anyone who enters the water and it can make tool use harder. I don't recommend using SCBA as a substitute scuba, it could work in shallow water but the pack will most likely need a complete overhaul but if a victim was in danger of drowning we would make every effort to try and get mask with air on them if they were trapped. A snorkel and mask might work as well. Another option for retrieval is to attach a cable and winch or pull the vehicle out of the water (easier said than done). We have responded to several accidents over the years we have found that anyone that could have survived did so by getting out of the vehicle on their own or with help from bystanders before are arrival. We now have a dive team in house if the worse happens we have a extra card to play. I am curious what others have to say as well.


        • #5
          Nearly thirty years ago we got into a discussion about whether our standard SCBA sets would work underwater. I couldn't see why not. They were a single stage set with a full facemask and 3000psi right up to the facemask/demand regulator. To prove the point I wore it successfully to the bottom of a 32 foot deep lift test pit we had and did all kinds of other experiments such as taking it off underwater and then clearing the facemask through the exhalation valve by operating the demand regulator manually. So much for the "it doesn't work" school of thought. Luckily I didn't kill myself and later when I did what I should have done to start with, a Certificated SCUBA course I found out all the ways I could have died or been seriously injured. Anyone considering using SCBA in a SCUBA role needs to be SCUBA qualified, equiped with gear that will work underwater and practiced in using that gear in training situations. Highly motivated people will always want to use what is to hand to carry out a rescue. Even if the eventual policy is that it is too dangerous (and there are plenty of reasonable arguments for that) the staff at the incident will be more likely to accept that if they know why. There is also an operational cost as any SCBA equipment I know of that is used underwater would require immediate strip down and maintenance afterwards. Establishing protocols and policy on this would be a useful excercise for any group likely to be faced with such a scenario.
          Jim Maclean. IACOJ NZ branch


          • #6
            Air packs are readily available to us and like anything else is a tool with it's limitations. <br />However, when we are faced with a rescue we will often take risk's and utilize any tools and equipment available for the save. <br />Unfortunity, I wasn't able to test our MSA Ultra lite II in the water under a controlled enviroment before being faced with a water rescue. Lesson learned - The regulator will free flow once it is submerged and unknown as to what the rate it was free flowing and it was impossible to know do to the murky water. It took the winch off the Rescue to pull the pt. and the vehicle out of the water (The pt. had an extremity trapped in the door approx 10-15 feet underwater). Another thing learned was that the window punch we carried didn't not work under water as expected (We now have new ones that will work under water we tested them). I wish I would have tested the Air pack in water before being faced with this rescue. For anyone reading this and thinking of testing any Air Pack in water PLEASE make sure you do it in a controlled enviroment and at the direction of an expert or someone experienced in this type training and with diver's. NOTE read jimthefireman's post regarding the risked involved in doing any of this type of training well said jim... <br />In the near future I will be testing the MSA Ultra-Lite II and the MSA MMR Air pack in the water under a controlled situtation.

            Lesson learned - what you read and doing it are two totally different things.

            GOD Bless FDNY and ALL of the lost Brother's and their families.

            Dave<br />Firefighter<br />FTM, PTB, RFB
            Last edited by FF.1205; 02-03-2002, 08:48 AM.


            • #7
              "It took the wench off the Rescue to pull the pt. and the vehicle out of the water "

              Boy, she must be REALLY strong...

              Sorry I couldn't help myself.
              James Steele
              First Assistant Chief
              Portland Hook & Ladder Co. #1
              Portland , PA


              • #8
                I have not been around on this forum very long but I feel that I need to put my .02 cents in hear.

                Before attempting any rescue involving water it would be a very good idea to take a swift water first responders course in order to learn about how water works and more importantly to learn how to save yourself if you were to be swept downstream. Part and parcel of this would be to be properly equipped with drysuits, helmets and rescue lifejackets with the quick release strap. Also the proper deployment of personnel downstream on the shore with throwbags and people upstream watching for incoming debris. All personnel who come within 10' of the waters edge should be wearing a lifejacket. Bunker gear has no place being in or near the water. This goes for bucket hemlmets as well.

                I would not take any electric tools into the water unless they were actually designed for that purpose. You can use hydraulics or air tools without any problems. Air tools should work down to 33 feet as it is the same atmosphereic pressure as the surface (although I haven't tried this theory out yet).

                Shane Desjardines
                Asst Training Officer
                It don't take a genius to spot a goat in a flock of sheep


                • #9
                  Whether the car is still above the surface or underwater, all of your hydraulics and pneumatics should work. Like was mentioned previously, however, you will have problems seeing your target (i.e. finding a purchase point when it's underwater). I would not even think about taking electric gear into the water, whether it's rated for it or not. There are too many other safer options available.

                  Since hydraulics are a closed system there shouldn't be much of a problem with cleaning. Just get everything clean and pay attention to oiling as per the manufacturer's recommendations. Pneumatics always need oil and it's even more of a priority after working in the water. I've read recommendations for oiling the tool, running it under load for awhile, re-oiling, and repeating until you get nothing out but oil or until you've done it "x" times.

                  Don't give up on the idea of the "snatch and grab", having a guy go in with a tow strap (no chains!!), hook to anything substantial, and towing the vehicle out to firm ground where everyone and every tool can be brought to bear. If you pre-plan with the wrecker guys so that they know what to expect and so that they bring a big enough wrecker, you shouldn't see much lost time.

                  Anyone in or near the water should have some minimum training as determined by the authority having jurisdiction. I'd recommend being able to swim and knowing something about self-rescue. Also, minimum equipment like PFDs, strobe lights, knife, foot protection and thermal protection as appropriate should be included (no structural firefighting gear).

                  If the car is under a small amount of water and you don't have a dive team immediately available, consider using mask and snorkel to do the work. SCBA do work underwater BUT not well. Some considerations...
                  1) When the regulator goes underwater, the pressure from it will
                  usually make the mask free-flow, which means you'll lose
                  air fast and won't be able to concentrate much with the
                  mask trying to jump off your head. This can be sort of
                  dealt with by shutting off the mainline and using the by-
                  pass valve to give yourself a breath when needed (which
                  will tie up at least one of your hands full-time and screw
                  up your day)
                  2) The pack will have to be removed from service to be
                  completely overhauled or refurbed.
                  3) Depending upon your depth and time underwater, breathing air
                  underwater runs the risk of setting you up for
                  decompression sickness (although probably not a major
                  concern for the depths/times we are talking about here).
                  4) You will become to the dive team what all those well-meaning
                  spectators, johnny-on-the-spot first aiders, and
                  miscellaneous untrained helpers are to you...a potential
                  victim and someone that they have to worry about doing the
                  wrong thing and making the situation worse.

                  There are literally dozens of considerations on SCBA use in the water that differ from on land, dozens more differences on how a car in the water will behave, and dozens more hazards that the untrained wouldn't even think of. This wouldn't be a program that your department T.O. should develop after going thru a few issues of a trade journal and then making out a lesson plan. Similarly, being a SCUBA diver with a maltese cross doesn't make you ready to do underwater rescue or recovery. Seek out professional training from a group like Dive Rescue International.

                  Although there are sure to be exceptions, from my personal experiences I'd say this isn't a HUGE worry for the average department. If the accident is bad enough to require a "REAL" extrication (cutting, pulling, popping and the whole nine yards), then the patient probably has enough trauma combined with the trauma that the run is a recovery. Air pockets in the car just occur in the movies. If its not that bad a wreck then the "extrication" may just be popping a window and walking someone to shore from their partially submerged car.

                  I'd suggest contacting Metro-Dade Fire Rescue re: this topic. They have a LOT of experience in doing the car-in-the-canal type thing and, although I'm unsure if they do it anymore, they used to do some SCBA work on runs like this that were guaranteed shallow water.
                  Stay Safe! Jim

                  (Long Live MAST pants and the LP 5!)


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