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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

Training

Outboard Motor Information

The Pennsylvania Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team shared the video below on their Facebook page of useful information on outboard motor.

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Outboard Motor

The Pennsylvania Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team shared the video below on their Facebook page of useful information on outboard motor.

The Pennsylvania Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team has a great Standard Operating Guidelines and Training Manual.

https://www.fishandboat.com/Boat/PennsylvaniaWaterRescue/Pages/default.aspx

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Heavy Rescue

ALBERTA Advanced Heavy Rescue Symposium

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Sept 22-23, 2017 Advanced Heavy Rescue Symposium at the CFD Training Academy registration forms ready to be sent out, email me if your interested. Only 60 spots available.

 

 

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Air Monitoring

Lifting Lockers

Have you walked thru your local school and thought that the lockers could fall on someone?

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Outside the Box

The lifting maze training props that made the rounds across social media last year could use a little updating after looking at the pictures from the rescue call that the Medway Fire Department responded to. If you look at the pictures, the lockers appear to be several sections of lockers attached together. Lifting all the lockers as one unit may not be possible.  A scenario like this will require more cribbing that a large rigid object.

Location

The custodial worker was pinned under the lockers in a second-floor hallway.  This type of rescue will require a large cache of equipment.  Consider the your plan A and plan B lifting tools.  Airbags and battery powered extrication tools are easily deployed inside a building.  If plan Z was to run a gas powered tool do you have ventilation setup along with air monitoring to ensure the patient and rescuers are not put in danger?

Weight

After a quick web search I found that the average 5-6 feet tall, 3 locker section weighs around 175 lbs.  Looking at the pictures, it looks like 3, 3 locker sections fell on the worker.  However, the contents of the lockers is the unknown.  The lockers could be empty or full of textbooks and other items.

Closing Thoughts

Strong work by the Medway, Norfolk, Millis and Bellingham fire departments freed the pinned worker.  This is another one of those calls that could happen anywhere.  Nearly every school has lockers lining the hallways.  Often, the hallways do not have easy access to the outside of the building and the parking lot.  Keep that in mind because all the equipment will have to be carried in.

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