First Aid in Emergency Response is the provision of initial care for a person or persons suffering from an illness or injury after being involved in an incident or accident. It is usually performed until definitive medical treatment can be accessed and in some cases this is inclusive of medical evacuations to a major city.
Certain self-limiting illnesses or minor injuries may not require further medical care past the first aid intervention of the response teams. It generally consists of a series of simple and, in some cases, potentially life-saving techniques that an individual can be trained to perform with minimal equipment.
Hazardous materials are a necessary fact of life. Modern day lifestyles and the standard of living expected by the majority of nations require the movement of hazardous substances across land, air and sea.
As we become more involved in the transportation, storage, use and disposal of these materials, the risk of an “accident” occurring is likely to increase. Industrial emergency response teams need to develop procedures and skills to deal with these incidents. Management, by planning and developing emergency response programmes and procedures, can assist the emergency services to prevent minor incidents becoming major disasters.
CONFINED SPACE RESCUE
Accidents in confined spaces may be rare, but they can result in severe injury or death. Hazardous atmospheres such as toxic gases or lack of oxygen cause the majority of deaths in confined spaces. The remaining deaths are the result of physical hazards, where workers may be crushed, struck by falling objects or buried in materials. Entering and working in confined spaces has been and will continue to be an integral part of routine activity by mine employees and contractors.
Two out of every three deaths that occur in Confined Space incidents around the world are ‘would be’ rescuers who attempt an unplanned entry, in the confined space, to rescue someone in distress. Mine Emergency Services provide the standby rescue service for all entries into a confined space providing immediate rescue capability when the need arises.
Fire fighting on the majority of mine sites will be undertaken by trained personnel with little or no back up. Personnel engaged in fire fighting activities must be trained to a proficient level and maintain a high standard of safety. Fire fighting is strenuous and requires participants to have a proficient level of physical fitness.
Rescue work is inherently dangerous, and serious injury or death can result from the use of incorrect rope rescue techniques or equipment. Personnel engaged in rescue activities must be trained to a proficient level and taught to comply with a high standard of safety.
Competency based training, conducted by experienced instructors, should ensure individuals achieve a high level of proficiency. However it is the responsibility of all rescue personnel, to use their own judgement, to ensure that a high standard of safety is maintained whenever rescue techniques and equipment are used.
ROAD CRASH RESCUE
Accidents involving motor vehicles causing entrapment have been described as the biggest epidemic of the modern time. Mine Emergency Services teams must be able to undertake the controlled release of casualties from entrapment due to a motor vehicle accident.
Entrapment, particularly if prolonged, is going to require a team approach to achieve the release of the casualty. Controlled release management will require Mine Emergency Services Extrication Teams to work closely with paramedic teams to systematically dismantle the vehicle with the casualty in situ.
EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM READINESS
ERT Readiness has been developed to test the physical and mental capabilities of the Emergency Response Teams. First Responders need to maintain good levels of aerobic and anaerobic fitness.
Rescue work is physically and mentally demanding. It often has to be performed in adverse conditions including darkness, wet weather and the cold. Any rescue team member who has any reservations as to their ability or fitness should not participate in training or live rescue activities.
HAZARD AND RISK
Hazard and Risk assessment is used as a matter of routine by responding emergency teams. The “hazards” refer to the danger involved at the incident where as the “risk” refers to the probability of suffering harm or loss.
In hazardous material incidents, the “hazard”, is generally referred to as the physical or chemical properties of the material involved. The “risk” is likely to be different at every hazardous material incident and must be evaluated very carefully, using all available resources.