Firefighter rescue drill of an impaled victim

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Always follow your service or department’s standard operating guidelines or procedures.
Firefighter safety is paramount – if a drill from another state or service is in violation of your own SOP/SOG’s, it can be undertaken at your own risk. Flashover, or the service where the drill came from, is not responsible for any damages or injuries that happen as a result of undertaking this drill.

Equipment required

  • Star pickets or reo bar (Used to impale the victim)
  • Heavy object to place over the victim. Some form of machinery, lawnmower, car, etc. Something that can’t just be lifted by hand
  • Mannequin (One can be made from old pillows and clothes)
  • Full rescue PPE as required by your service
  • Fireground radio’s, appropriate lighting

How to prepare for the drill

Start by hammering a star picket a fair way into the ground so it can’t just be pulled by hand. Cut a hole in the dummy and slide it over the picket to “impale it” it, then place a heavy object or piece of machinery over the dummies legs. Something heavy enough that it can’t be lifted by hand. Lawn mower, car, or farming machinery works well.

Safety Considerations for Firefighters

Depending on the method used to extricate and release the dummy you may need fire protection in place and full PPE.
Appoint a safety officer to oversee the entire drill.

How to undertake the drill

  1. Brief the crew (Optional)
    Bring the crew to the scene let them have a look at the scenario before commencing. This is a chance to appoint roles and tasks. This may be a good option for junior or inexperienced crews. Remind participants of the MDDC acronym. Manipulation, Displacement, Disassemble, Cut.
  2. Have the crew arrive in the appliance
    Have the crew arrive in the appliance. This will give the officer a chance to size up and devise a rescue plan. The crew should safely examine the scene, don correct PPE and select the appropriate tools from the appliance
  3. The aim
    The end goal for this drill is to have to victim extricated and removed on a spinal board. How this is done is entirely up to the crew – but the victim can’t be “slid up” the star picket and the picket can’t be pulled out of the ground.
  4. Time pressure (optional)
    As an optional extra, a time restriction can be placed on the crew at a certain time in the drill.
  5. Crew size
    Depending on your crew size at the scene, consider things like lighting, fire protection, sharps, and patient management, etc.

Lessons Learned

The biggest lesson in this drill is to think outside the box don’t just go straight for the combination tool or shears – not all rescues require cutting. Think of a way to manipulate the entrapment/impalement or a way to displace the machine or object trapping the patient.
Even if your station isn’t a primary rescue station this drill still helps with learning new techniques

Have you got a drill you’d like to share?

If you have a drill or exercise you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you. We’ve got a form you can fill out and attach photos, get in touch with us!

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I founded Flashover to promote Australian Firefighting. I've been a volunteer and a paid firefighter but now I spend my time chasing up leads, promoting good mental health and making the occasional Grumpy Firecom comic!

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