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Cold Weather Safety Refresher

Winter is in full force across many parts of the world.  The east coast of the United States is currently feeling the wrath of a Bomb Cyclone.  With the call for emergency responders in those areas most likely increasing during the storm, it is never a bad time to review cold weather safety tips.

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Cold Weather Safety Refresher

Winter is in full force across many parts of the world.  The east coast of the United States is currently feeling the wrath of a Bomb Cyclone.  With the call for emergency responders in those areas most likely increasing during the storm, it is never a bad time to review cold weather safety tips.

Environmental cold can affect any worker exposed to cold air temperatures and puts workers at risk of cold stress. As wind speed increases, it causes the cold air temperature to feel even colder, increasing the risk of cold stress to exposed workers, especially those working outdoors.  In regions that are not used to winter weather, near freezing temperatures are considered factors for “cold stress.”

Types of Cold Stress

Immersion/Trench Foot

Trench foot is a non-freezing injury of the feet caused by prolonged exposure to wet and cold conditions. It can occur in temperatures as high as 60°F if feet are constantly wet. Injury occurs because wet feet lose heat 25-times faster than dry feet.

What are they symptoms of trench foot?
Reddening skin, tingling, pain, swelling, leg cramps, numbness, and blisters.

Frostbite

Frostbite is caused by the freezing of the skin and tissues. Frostbite can cause permanent damage to the body, and in severe cases can lead to amputation. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and among people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures.

What are the symptoms of frostbite?
Reddened skin develops gray/white patches in the fingers, toes, nose, or ear lobes; tingling, aching, a loss of feeling, firm/hard, and blisters may occur in the affected areas.

Hypothermia

Hypothermia occurs when the normal body temperature (98.6°F) drops to less than 95°F. Exposure to cold temperatures causes the body to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up the body’s stored energy. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. Hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, but it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or immersion in cold water.

What are the symptoms of hypothermia?
An important mild symptom of hypothermia is uncontrollable shivering, which should not be ignored. Although shivering indicates that the body is losing heat, it also helps the body to rewarm itself. Moderate to severe symptoms of hypothermia are loss of coordination, confusion, slurred speech, heart rate/breathing slow, unconsciousness and possibly death. Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because a person may not know what is happening and won’t be able to do anything about it.

Information for this post was taken from the OSHA.gov website.  Complete list of links below:

Cold Weather Research

In case you are wondering if anyone is researching the human performance of firefighters in cold weather environments.  The answer would be yes. Some of the PhD student’s at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) are researching what we go thru.  You can find more here.

Cold Weather Rehab

Rehab is an important part of any fire service operation.  However, the cold weather makes rehab extremely important to protect firefighters and get them back in service as quickly as possible. The International Association of Fire Fighters has a great Rehab Presentation that you can download.

Mike Smith, Absolute Rescue's Editor in Chief, is a veteran of the fire/rescue service in Michigan, who also works in the automotive industry as a designer. Have an idea of suggestion for the site? Contact Mike here

Heavy Rescue

18-wheeler falls off overpass crushes car below

Often many extrication instructors setup some outside of the normal training scenarios where the students usually comment “that would never happen”.  One of those happened in Texas. A tractor and trailer fell off overpass in Sugar Land, Texas and crushed the car below. The driver of the car was able to climb out of her vehicle with a little help from some bystanders.

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Outside the Box

Often many extrication instructors setup some outside of the normal training scenarios where the students usually comment “that would never happen”.  One of those happened in Texas. A tractor and trailer fell off overpass in Sugar Land, Texas and crushed the car below. The driver of the car was able to climb out of her vehicle with a little help from some bystanders.

From a training perspective, what would be your plan if the vehicle had occupants trapped? Do you know what heavy wrecker resources are available in your response area? Do you have the equipment to stabilize, lift, and/or remove the vehicle from under the trailer?  Take some time to run a scenario thru your mind about what you would do.

 

 

Twitter exploded with rubberneckers posting pictures.

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Techniques

Ratchet Strap Storage and Deployment (Triple R Method)

One tool in the rescue discipline that is important to store properly, ready for fast effective deployment is the ratchet strap.  One method that satisfies both requirements is the Triple R Method.

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Ratchet Strap Storage and Deployment

Triple R Method

One tool in the rescue discipline that is important to store properly, ready for fast effective deployment is the ratchet strap.  One method that satisfies both requirements is the Triple R Method.  I first ran across this technique on Iraki West’s Heavy Rescue Germany page.  I included his video and also located a video in English below.

Here are a few pictures from the Heavy Rescue Germany that show the Triple R method in several different stages of storing the straps.  The Heavy Rescue Germany site is written in German, if that is not your first language, the “Translate” button should pop up and you can quickly translate the entire website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s another method of storing ratchet straps from VentEnterSearch.com.

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Techniques

West Metro Fire Rescue Vehicle Extrication

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West Metro Fire Rescue

West Metro Fire Rescue posted several pictures from a vehicle accident that required several rescue discipline to free a trapped occupant. Around 11:30pm on a Saturday night, firefighters with Engine 2, Tower 2, Engine 6, Medic 3, District 2 Chief and SAM 1 responded to a rollover crash on east bound 6th Avenue. The driver, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was pinned, with one leg through the sunroof. The crews used high pressure airbags to lift the vehicle and stabilized it with struts to extricate the patient, who had serious injuries.

One benefit with struts that use anchor loops that move independently from the base plate is the ratchet strap anchor point will pull the base plate off the ground. This allows the base plate to remain flat on the surface especially when the strap anchor point on vehicle tightens up the angle on the tension buttress.

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