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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

2022 Ford Maverick: Vehicle-Specific Body Structure

The 2022 Ford Maverick loaned to the Hurst folks was the star of the extrication show at FDIC. The Maverick was no match for the Hurst tools and

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Ford Maverick

The 2022 Ford Maverick loaned to the Hurst folks was the star of the extrication show at FDIC. The Maverick was no match for the Hurst tools and the man that makes these vehicles available, Dennis Lark, was pleased with the destruction. The Maverick is available as an ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) vehicle and an FHEV (Full Hybrid Electric Vehicle). Below is an image from Ford’s 2022 Maverick Hybrid Emergency Response Guide.

Boron Extrication

If you notice, the Hybrid battery pack is on the passenger (RHS) of the vehicle. If you take a look at the image below, you can see the rocker on the RHS is reinforced to protect the battery pack. You can find more information about the different steels used in the rockers and floor pan here.

A-Pillar (Hurst Booth FDIC 2022)

FORD Maverick

Photos by Chief Toranze Lee

B-Pillar (Hurst Booth FDIC 2022)

Photos by Chief Toranze Lee

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Training

Object on a Vehicle

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An object on a Vehicle

A simple training scenario that only requires a vehicle (that you do not need to cut, yet) and an object to lift. Great objects include large tree sections, utility poles, and concrete pipes. These objects can be easily found in most cities, maybe even in your Department of Public Works yard.

Take a look at the scenario that Connecticut Custom Fire Training LLC. put together a month ago at one of their training classes.

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Training

York County Vehicle Technician Class 2021

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York County Vehicle Technician Class 2021

Take a look at the York County Vehicle Technician Class 2021. It’s a 24-hour Vehicle Rescue Technician program that includes classroom and practical training which applies to those incidents where commercial or heavy vehicles are involved, complex extrication processes will have to be applied, or multiple uncommon concurrent hazards are present, or that involve heavy machinery or more than digital entrapment of a victim. Emphasis will be placed on heavy vehicle lifting and stabilization, utilization of heavy towing and recovery services, and complex patient packaging and removal techniques.

Pictures (by John E. Burruss)

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