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Glass Management: It’s More Than Smashing Windows

At every heavy rescue and extrication program, we are taught to remove glass as needed and in as controlled a manner as practical and possible.

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By David Dalrymple
FireRescue1.com

At every heavy rescue and extrication program, we are taught to remove glass as needed and in as controlled a manner as practical and possible. However, how many times do we go to the session and WHAM and SMASH go the side and rear glass because it’s impressive to watch or fun to do?

Laminated glass must be cut from the vehicle to be removed.

Laminated glass must be cut from the vehicle to be removed.

But is that what we should be doing? When displacing the vehicle glazing materials, usually referred to as glass management, we want to remove the glass in an orderly, managed process.

Before one window is shattered, it is important to know the types of glass firefighters will encounter and the additional forces that can be present at a motor vehicle accident. The two types of glass to which we have become accustomed, laminated and tempered safety glass, are still the most widely used.

Laminated glass is a sandwich, a series of layers of glass and plastic laminated together. Tempered, or safety, glass will break into small granular fragments when shattered.

However, there are a few new variations in use. Enhanced protective glass is basically a form of laminated glass found in the side and rear windows. Dual-paned glass and polycarbonate glazing are also used.

Some of these materials require a change in our methodology and tools for removing such windows.

And factor in the issues of rear glass hatches in SUVs and minivans. These glass hatches have a nasty habit of flying apart when broken because of the tension placed on them by the multiple hatch struts and the energy absorbed by the vehicle during the crash.

Laminated glass is found in windshields but is increasingly found in the side and rear windows as well. This type of glass must be cut from the vehicle to be removed, which can be facilitated by cutting the peripheral edge with an axe, a glass saw, or even a reciprocating saw.

This operation produces glass dust, which is a respiratory hazard. For this reason, we must add dust masks to the personal protective equipment for glass management.

Tempered glass is usually found in side and rear windows. To break this glass, use an impact tool that imparts a large amount of force into a small concentrated area. Then clean out the window opening by pulling the glass onto the ground with a tool, not with gloved hands.

Vehicles can load the glass with energy from the crash; when it’s broken it can almost explode when that energy is released. We must protect our patient with a protective cover and use hard protection to funnel glass pieces away from the patient.

nedaveMake sure your eye protection is in place and you are wearing a dust mask. Also, watch out for glass in hatches of vehicles.

It can have up to four gas struts pushing on the glass and creating even more tension. This too might explode when broken; be aware that the struts may also push toward rescuers.

Ideally, the laminated glass that was cut and removed should be folded and slid in under the vehicle out of rescuers way. If at all possible, tempered glass should be removed to the outside of the vehicle, away from the patient and the interior rescuer.

However, some vehicles — especially SUVs and minivans — might have a lot of windows or a rather large window, which produce many glass particles.

Glass particles can be slippery, almost like marbles. It is a good practice to sweep these under the vehicle so that rescuers are not walking on it and stabilization devices are on not on it.

There are two new materials available to help rescuers manage glass. One is Packexe Smash and it is available in North America from ESI equipment. It is a clear film dispensed from a special applicator. The film adds enough strength for tempered glass to be cut.

wrap1On the flip side, laminated glass dust can be greatly reduced by applying the film first and then cutting through the area where the film is applied. If the glass is wet, it can be wiped dry with a microfiber cloth before the film is applied.

The other material is an extrication wrap made by Protecto. The wrap material is an adhesive rubber compound on one side with a smooth brightly colored film on the other side. The material comes in a roll that firefighters can pre cut or cut-to size on scene.

The up side to this material is it can be used as sharp-edge protection as well. Both of these materials really can make a difference in glass-management tasks. And both materials can handle glass management and sharp-edge protection.

Whether or not you invest in glass-management products, it is critical to invest the time to plan and execute how you approach removing glass at vehicle collisions. A smart approach protects both rescuers and patients.

About the Author
David Dalrymple is a career EMS provider for the RWJUH Emergency Medical Services in New Brunswick, N.J., and he is a volunteer FF/EMT/Rescue Technician for Clinton EMS/Rescue in Clinton, N.J. He has been actively involved with emergency services for 27 years. Dave is the education chair of the Transportation Emergency Rescue Committee – US (TERC), is certified as an international level extrication assessor and serves on the Expert Technical Advisory Board of the International Emergency Technical Rescue Institute as their road traffic accident advisor. He has taught and assessed in North America, Europe, the UK and South Africa. In 2007 he received the coveted Harvey Grant award for excellence in rescue education.

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Techniques

Blue Collar Training Network

Great content and cutting edge training scenarios!

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Blue Collar Training Network

If you are not following the Blue Collar Training Network on Facebook you are missing out on great content and cutting edge training scenarios.   Take a look at the post below and other pictures that one of their instructors, Andrew Hale, posted on Facebook.  Here’s another method to capture the suspension of a vehicle involved in an under-ride crash.

 

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PowerPoints

Northern Ohio FOOLS 14th annual Heavy Rescue 101

The Northern Ohio FOOLS hosted their 14th annual Heavy Rescue 101 this last weekend. This free event was full just 2-hours after the tickets were released online.

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Northern Ohio FOOLS

The Northern Ohio FOOLS hosted their 14th annual Heavy Rescue 101 this last weekend. This free event was full just 2-hours after the tickets were released online. Volunteers, tool vendors, sponsors, and of course the students started to converge on the Huron County Fair grounds Friday evening for 3 presentations in a classroom setting.

Saturday morning the HOT part of this course started and students selected two different course tracks, basic or advanced. The basic class covered standard techniques common taught and used by rescuers around the world.

The advanced track was broken up into 5 different pits that covered side impacts, alternative methods, inverted vehicles, limited access crashes, and incidents involing a commerical truck.

Side Impacts

Alternative methods

The alternative methods station does not give hydraulic or electric cutters, spreaders, rams as tool options. It makes people think and use many tools that the vast majority of today’s firefighters are not familiar with operating. It shows that extrication work can be done without cutters and spreaders. It also demonstrates options that can be used in conjunction with extrication tools during complex extrications or limited extrication tool availability.

The pictures below is the “Batwing” at taught by by Steve Johnson, Mikey Torres, and Ron Whitaker

Inverted Vehicles (Cracking the egg)

Limited Access

The Alternative methods and Limited Access Pits were taught from a great group of brothers from First In-Last Out Fire Equipment & Training LLC.

Incidents involving a commercial trucks

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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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