June 1, 2013

Move Victim Rescue Methods

  • Over the shoulder (fig. 1): To initiate this method, the rescuer stands at the feet of the victim and pulls the victim up to shoulder height in one continuous motion. Although this method can be effectively used by one firefighter, caution must be exercised to ensure the victim’s face does not strike the rescuers breathing apparatus bottle. Additionally, it can be easily seen that the size of the victim and rescuer is an important consideration.
  • Firefighter Victim (fig.2): Position the victim on their back (breathing apparatus down). Check the waist strap on the victim for tightness. Grip the victim’s shoulder straps near the breathing apparatus frame. Lift the victim and back out of structure using your strongest muscles (quadriceps) to slide the victim on the lower portion of breathing apparatus bottle. If the victim is moved by pulling the feet, the position of the victim’s head can restrict or close the airway. There are several variations of this method that can work satisfactorily, such as sliding a tool through the breathing apparatus shoulder straps to allow a firefighter on either side to hold the tool to back out of a structure to remove a victim.

Rescue Methods

The methods in this and previous articles are not the only techniques to remove civilians and/or firefighters from a structure or challenging location. The focus of various methods is to not only stimulate interest and discussion but to also challenge you to have preplanned methods that you are familiar with and can safely use when the need arises.

Remember that search and rescue operations are some of the most difficult fireground operations due to their infrequent use and challenging conditions during structural incidents. Therefore, the primary focus is to be prepared even though this subject is usually “out of sight and out of mind” until the need suddenly arises.

By John Mittendorf

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