Friday, 2 December 2016

Road Rescue Extrication Techniques - Vehicle Relocation

Last night Tatura State Emergency Service Unit trained in relocating vehicles so to conduct an effective extrication following a road crash.  Ideally, of course, a road crash rescue team will strive to be able to extricate a casualty from a vehicle in any position in any location.  However, where a car or truck can be moved to give a crew more space to work or a more stable platform, this makes for a speedier and less risky rescue.
Image from here
We first assumed that the vehicle had come to rest on its wheels with one side against a tree, so that it would be impossible to reach a casualty in the passenger side seats with any ease.  The best approach is to hitch a chain around the rear axle and trail the end of the chain away from the car.
Attach the cable of a tirfor winch to the chain to pull the rear of the car around and away from the tree (or building or power pole).  The weight of the engine in the front of the car will tend to enable the rear of the vehicle to pivot.  Remember, however, that as the vehicle moves it may roll on the front tyres; consider removing the key and locking the steering wheel (advise the police officer on scene if you do this)
A tirfor winch is to be preferred to using a motorised winch.  A motorised winch will tend to jerk the car.  This is not consistent with good spine management.  The winch handle should be used in a circular or figure-eight motion rather than simply left-to-right for the same reason.

The vehicle should be pivoted to one-and-a-half times the length of the extrication tools to give the rescue crew an ideal space within which to work.
In the second scenario, it was assumed that the vehicle had come to rest on its side with its roof against a tree or other obstacle.  In this case a side roof-flap is clearly impossible.  The best approach is to return the vehicle to its wheels so to commence extrication.  Hitch a chain around the uppermost part of the rear axle and connect it to the cable from a winch.
The next step is to put a strap around the tree or pole (or a building fixture if you can be confident it will take the weight) and shackle a block (a swing-cheek pulley may be best) to it.  Run a winch cable through the block and connect it to a chain which has been hitched around the uppermost B-pillar of the car.
In this scenario both winches will be on the same side of the car.  The winch connected to the rear axle should be operated to pull the vehicle towards the winch, while the winch connected to the B-pillar is released to allow the vehicle to tip.  It is vital that the crew leader watches the movement of the vehicle and closely directs the winch operators.  The B-pillar winch should be released only enough to allow the vehicle to tip but not so much that the vehicle will 'drop' when it passes the tipping point.
The crew leader should tell the winch operators when the vehicle is  about to pass the tipping point.  When it passes this point the load will shift from the axle-winch to the B-pillar winch.  The operator of the latter can then lower the vehicle to the ground.  A crew member should be tasked with pulling the axle-winch cable away from the descending vehicle to avoid the cable being crushed and damaged.
If the vehicle is lowered in this manner, minimal extra distress should be caused to the casualties.  The rescue crew will then be able to carry out the extrication in an orthodox manner.

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