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Fire News in Focus
by Adam K. Thiel

Manhole rescue LODD highlights technical rescue dangers

The details in this incident underscore how quickly we can move from a seemingly benign incident to a full-blown emergency operation

By Adam K. Thiel

Editor's note: A N.Y. volunteer firefighter died because of unrecognized hazards involved with a confined space rescue, according to a NIOSH report. Read Chief Adam K. Thiel's view below.

Like all firefighter fatalities, this was a tragic event and I know we're all thinking of Firefighter Kelly's family and department as they go through the pain associated with the NIOSH report's release.

The details in this story underscore how quickly we can move from a seemingly benign incident to a full-blown emergency operation.

This is especially true in the "low-frequency, high-consequence" technical rescue arena encompassing trench, confined-space, high-angle, structural collapse, water, and (sometimes) vehicle extrication.

Time and time again we've seen well-meaning rescuers attempt to make a save in these situations, with tragic results.

Technical rescue requires highly-specialized knowledge, skills, equipment, and discipline to accomplish safely. Without all of these bases covered, responders place themselves at grave risk of injury or death.

Frankly, regardless of fiscal climate, not every fire department will be able to afford the resources necessary to effectively provide technical rescue services.

Take this opportunity to understand your department's (and individual) capabilities, and limitations, when responding to these incidents.

Stay safe!

About the author

With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel FireRescue1's editorial advisor is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.



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