It continues to amaze me (and others) about the lack of focus related to preventing injuries during training evolutions. Every agency should adopt the foundation/mission of ZERO injuries during training. No one joins our agencies to come home with one less finger……… Injuries are not only related to bodily damage but also to heat exposure and the resultant impact. We must be vigilant to prevent, not reactionary to treat. Injuries are NOT a right to passage. Here are some tips to help along your journey.
Every evolution has safety issues that can be addressed on the front end as well as during the evolution. Careful observation will identify failures before they occur because it is far too easy to react after the fact. Let’s choose one evolution – “throwing” a ground ladder, adopt the mindset of PROCESS versus PROCEDURE. We play as we train.
We can break down the evolution into three basic categories: Removing, deploying and operating. During the removing process we need to have at least two members (back injury prevention) with one as the lead. In most cases apparatus mounting will have a roof ladder over the extension ladder – remove the roof ladder to locate away from the apparatus. This action removes the trip hazard.
Deploying is the process of moving the ladder from point A to B. Let’s not be the Three Stooges and knock down others and break things as we traverse to the deployment point. The key is to once again have a lead person shouting orders to the other.
Operating is the process of: footing the ladder on something that will disallow slippage (after raising someone must remain at the foot point using feet to prevent slippage – the non-preferred method is to “hang” on a rung on the building side; the lead determines and communicates the actions with the lead on the outside and follower on the inside toward the building; use the lanyard hand over hand (gloves on of course) to raise the ladder; climb the ladder and never use the beams – always have three points of contact.
Value Added: We have learned to have observers identify shortcomings during the evolution. Remember, this is training and not speed driven operations. We must identify the individual failures and fix them right then and there.
Space prevents more detail in this article but if you think and plan you can help your brothers and sisters to come home with all appendages.
Contributed by Chief Fred Windisch, Ponderosa Fire Department
ESO WC GROUP
VFIS of Texas