Technical rescue is a transportation problem that needs to be solved quickly. I need to get someone who’s not having a good day from point A to point B and conventional everyday means of transportation isn’t going to make it happen. I don’t have an elevator; I’m not walking or carrying him down the stairs or backing the ambulance up to his front door…and…there’s a high probability that some rope will be involved.
Of course we can expand and add to the required needs of this transportation problem. The person having a bad day may be at the bottom of a trench, or in a deep hole, like a confined space, or maybe hanging on some malfunctioned swing staging while window washing a high-rise. Now we have to address the environment and or safety of the location…not only for the victim and rescuer, but also for anyone else that might venture into this day of calamity. We start to develop rescue specialties like trench shoring, or confined space management, or electrical knowledge around transmission towers, or crane knowledge, or hazmat knowledge, or…well…you get the idea. The list of special rescue needs become truly endless.
NFPA 1670 has gone through great lengths to help us manage this special needs transportation problem. To their credit, they have contributed a wealth of knowledge to this profession, and yet we all know rescue is not black and white. There are no books or standards that cover it all. To address this problem as a scenario-based event; that is to say, we train on specific scenarios with the intent of matching the emergency with the training scenario, is a huge miscalculation. That would be like trying to fit one piece from a 1000 piece puzzle into a completely different 1000 piece puzzle!
Yes, we create scenarios for training purposes, and we practice, practice, and practice, but all too often rescuers and schools of rescue lose sight of the most important element of rescue…that is…the ability to adlib. To adlib or improvise means that the practitioner must be ultra-trained. It is erroneous to think good rescue results can be engineered through the use of the latest and greatest piece of equipment and not through long term development of the rescuer’s skill sets based on sound physics.