What equipment and training can be used to help search and rescue teams be more efficient in the field in any environment?
Search and Rescue is a specialised sector within the fire industry. Not only are they responsible for saving the lives of civilians in danger, but they are also on par to save fallen firefighters and other front line responders. In order to be part of an efficient search and rescue team firefighters must have the appropriate equipment to answer to any call within any environment. With the continuous advancement of technology, search and rescue has become ‘easier’ in terms of being prepared through training and equipment usage. Despite the danger of some environments never depleting, we can ensure that we are better prepared for said environments. So, what are some of the best pieces of equipment that can be used in any scenario?
Battalion Chief Robert Avsec divulges some of the best pieces of search and rescue equipment for any environment from his career. Battalion Chief Robert Avsec (ret.) served with the Chesterfield (Virginia) Fire & EMS Department for 26 years. He was an instructor for fire, EMS and hazardous materials courses at the local, state and federal levels, which included more than 10 years with the National Fire Academy.
“Search-and rescue operations in remote wilderness locations or in urban situations following a natural or man-made disaster require specialised tools and equipment for the first responder. Here are some of the top search-and-rescue tools and technologies that can improve a department’s operations and make them safer, more effective and more efficient.”
Controlled Impact Rescue Tool: The Controlled Impact Rescue Tool (CIRT) from Raytheon is a portable rapid concrete-breaching technology that enables rescuers to breach through reinforced concrete. Developed in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate, CIRT uses a specially designed impact head that applies a concentrated shock load into the concrete. Multiple impacts on concrete produce substantial localised damage for faster breaching.
Side Scan Sonar: Side Scan Sonar is considered to be an essential piece of equipment for search and recovery operations. This sonar is the ideal tool for teams searching for drowning victims, missing evidence, sunken vessels and submerged vehicles.
The main feature is producing detailed images of the underwater environment regardless of water clarity. It scans several hundred feet of ocean, lake or river bottom with each pass of the boat allowing large areas to be searched quickly. The sonar’s acoustic beam reflects off any objects lying on the bottom and the data is sent topside where vivid colour images are displayed and stored on a laptop or tablet computer.
Evacuation harness: The PMI’s Hasty Harness is a simple and secure evacuation seat that’s specifically designed to be lightweight, efficient and easy to put on a patient in distress. The split center piece of the triangle design conforms to the wearer and is surprisingly comfortable, even for an extended ride. One size fits most patients.
USAR search marking kit: The USAR Search Marking Kit from Wolfpack Gear is designed to carry all of the marking tools you need during a search operation. The main holster pocket holds an upside down marking paint can. Mounted below the holster are two flagging tape dispensers for different colour tapes.
Exterior covered pockets accept railroad chalk, lumber crayons, permanent markers or other marking pens. A waterproof zippered pocket is designed to carry glow sticks.
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