What's the best firefighter rehab vehicle?

More important than the rig itself is what's inside; doing a full, honest inventory will help you get the most of your rehab unit


The fire service has always been proud of their vehicles. We've got big trucks with lots of lights and all the bells and whistles.

Do an Internet search using the key words "fire department rehab unit." Make sure you search for images. Hundreds of rehab units will appear. There are big heavy-duty vehicles, big buses, little buses, ambulances — you name it, it is there.

What is the right vehicle for your rehab unit? The answer is — it doesn't matter.

A vehicle is a means to transport equipment and people from point A to point B. It has nothing to do with what vehicle you have, but what you have on your vehicle.

Wants and needs
With the start of a new year we tend to take inventories of ourselves; this is also the time to take inventory of your equipment. When you do your inventory, don't just make sure the equipment is there.

Look at your equipment you have. Do you have what you want? If not make your wish list.

Keep in mind that the equipment you want may not fit on your vehicle. You may need to place it on another vehicle.

Do you have the equipment you need? Remember, equipment is purely items that help you do your job. Can you improvise with the same results without the equipment? Does the equipment play a role in your rehab or is it there just because?

If you have equipment that is not needed, outdated, or just something cool to have, maybe you need to remove the equipment and replace it with something of more value. Prioritization is important when doing your inventory and organization of your rehab vehicle.

How does it work?
The most important item when you do your equipment inventory is whether or not the personnel knows how to use the equipment. How many pieces of equipment go unused, not because it is unneeded or unwarranted, but because no one knows how to use it?

One item that comes to mind is the CO-detection devices we are carrying on our vehicles as part of our EMS equipment. An educator from one of the companies that promote these devices said that many personnel are not using this device because they don't know how.

Stay tuned for the next column on more information specific to CO monitoring devices.

When inventorying your equipment, pull out each piece and have personnel randomly demonstrate how to use the device. Asking personnel is not always a valid way to identify if they know how to use the equipment.

Many individuals are embarrassed to say they don't know how to use a device in front of their peers, but if you ask them to demonstrate it, they are forced to show their knowledge level of the device. Plus others who may not have wanted to speak up can see how to use the device and in many cases will then participate in training.

Remember it is not the size of the vehicle, but the equipment in it. So often we do our vehicle checks and note whether the item is in the vehicle.

How often do you do an equipment check to see if personnel actually know how to use that piece of equipment? Incorporate this in all your vehicle checks and they now become a training session. 

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