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Summary of the Principles of Rescue Work


Following correct procedures that are well practised is actually quicker (and much safer) than taking shortcuts (remember the 7 P’s - Prior Preparation and Planning Prevents Painfully Poor Performances).

Procedures are followed to eliminate risks.

Remember that if one extra casualty is created, the desired outcome of the emergency response will probably not be achieved, ie you will fail.

The captain has a great deal of responsibility. He must stand back from the actual rescue work and take in the big picture. He must not allow himself to fall victim to tunnel vision.

The captain must check all team members properly before allowing them to act and team members must understand the importance of this.

Good communication between team members eliminates the problems that occur when things happen that are not expected.

The captain must regularly communicate with all team members to check on their physical and emotional well-being.

The entire situation must be carefully evaluated before anybody acts.

The captain will know roughly what preparations need to be made in a particular situation and he can have the team do this while he makes his evaluation.

The captain must formulate a complete plan of attack and thoroughly brief the entire team.

The team must carefully evaluate the captain’s plan and make comment - often the captain will just get the ball rolling with ideas and team members with less pressure on them will come up with the best plan.

What is important is that the captain coordinates everything and that everybody understands.

An exception to the rule of forming a complete plan may occur when casualties need to be accessed, such as in a rope rescue situation. It may be necessary to plan in stages - first plan how to quickly and safely access the casualties then plan the extraction.

The rule about briefing the entire team always applies.

A team member who disagrees with the plan must tell the captain in a pleasant manner and the captain must listen.

Everybody must stay calm and discuss matters in a logical manner, especially in a stress situation.

Situations that appear simple often have hidden dangers.

Electrical hazards are often overlooked.

Potential side effects of actions must be considered.

Never underestimate a situation and never take anything for granted (such as the strength of a structure or a piece of rescue equipment).

Consider the worst possible case and prepare for it - eg wear breathing apparatus to prevent inhalation of flames if an explosion occurs.

Apply the ‘What If?’ rule to every situation and remember that there is always a safe way of achieving the task.

It is vital that all team members have a good understanding of theory so they can appreciate the implications of situations.

There will often be situations encountered that have not been covered in training. The application of knowledge to form a hypothesis is an essential ability but the hypothesis must be proved by monitoring the situation.

All team members, especially the captain, must constantly look for indicators of special conditions in all situations.

All team members must be familiar with the correct techniques used with all equipment to prevent dangerous situations occurring.

Don’t be distracted by spectacular injuries or situations.

Certain situations will have a degree of urgency required but the best response is to ‘Stop, Evaluate, Plan then Act’.

Rushing will cause an uncoordinated response and expose people to danger, as will heroic acts.

Attention to detail is vital during all stages of an emergency response, including at the end when stress has been reduced.

Anything that is not as it should be must be corrected, regardless of how trivial it appears.

If a situation is not going as expected, the captain must stop the whole team and re-evaluate the situation.

Good housekeeping is vital in that it prevents confusion and allows changes to the plan to be made quickly. A minute’s preparation in clearing access could save many more later and minimise the risk of escape being blocked.

Unnecessary personnel must be kept clear, not only for their safety but also for the rescuers - this can often be difficult, especially where management is involved and requires compassion.

Emergency Response Considerations

Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus

Drager PA93

Hazardous Chemicals

Drager BG174

Drager BG4



Fire Fighting

First Aid

Rope Rescue

Case Study - Pasminco Fire

Major Disaster Case Studies


Guidelines for the Frequency of Practice Sessions

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