Off-Road Vehicle Rescue 101 for Emergency Planners

Off-road vehicle rescue tactics for roads like this one by the ocean.
Image: Pixabay

Emergency managers can help prepare communities for disasters and other roadside emergencies with training for off-road vehicle rescue.

Emergency managers that develop emergency plans and procedures, direct and respond to disasters or provide disaster preparedness training know that challenges for first responders increase dramatically on roads and face an embankment. Below are a list of supplies and advice on how to develop a training for off-road vehicle rescue by FireRescue1’s Robert Avsec.

Off-Road Vehicle Rescue Equipment
  • Ropes for use as lifelines for personnel and lowering/hoisting lines for equipment.
  • Safety harnesses for all personnel going down and up the embankment.
  • Technical rescue hardware (e.g., pulleys, carabiners, webbing).
  • Tarps to protect life lines, prevent soil slippage, etc.
  • Ground ladders (for use as a stairway or slide for a Stokes basket).
  • Rescue manakin or bundled hose weighing between 175 and 200 pounds.
  • Chainsaws and weed trimmers (to clear area for the exercise, if necessary).
  • Additional patient care and extrication equipment used in entrapped occupant rescues.
Train for Extrication on an Embankment

A realistic training exercise that addresses what occurs between resources at road level and the occupants below can prepare first responder personnel to operate safe, effective and efficient off-road vehicle rescues.

Choose a location with a moderate amount of grade and a vertical drop of about 20 feet. Present your personnel with a challenge, but stay focused on presenting a scenario where they learn how to move equipment and people up and down a grade.

You don’t need a car, just a hill or embankment, preferably one that is not near an active roadway. Traffic control and personnel protection needed for training around an active roadway would add to the complexity of planning and logistics for a drill focused on specific responder tactics of off-road vehicle rescues.

Training exercises are excellent opportunities for you and your personnel to develop and maintain your incident command system skills.

Personnel must wear the PPE that’s appropriate for the tasks they are doing and as directed by their supervisor or manager.

 How to Develop an Incident Action Plan for Off-Road Vehicle Rescue Training

A critical part of any emergency operation is the Incident Action Plan developed by the incident commander. Here’s an IAP for your car over the embankment training drill to establish and then exercise:

Incident goals:

Tactical objectives:

  • Descend to crash site.
  • Stabilize the vehicle.
  • Gain access to vehicle occupants.
  • Assess patients and provide stabilization treatment at the crash site.
  • Remove patients from vehicle and package them for ascent.
  • Move patients up embankment to topside treatment area for any additional treatment.
  • Load and transport patients to appropriate medical facility.
Debrief about the Training

By eliminating the logistics of getting a car, treating and packaging actor occupants in the vehicle and conducting actual vehicle extrication operations, emergency managers, incident commanders and first responders can focus on the objective of getting personnel and equipment down to incidents below grade and back up. Ask:

  • Did we operate safely?
  • Did we operate efficiently? Look at the process you developed. Did the exercise go according to the training plan? If not, what adjustments should be made before the next exercise? Find solutions, not fault.
  • Did we operate effectively? Did we accomplish the objectives for the training exercise? Did the students acquire new knowledge and skills? Did they refine previously learned knowledge and skills?
About the Author

Battalion Chief Robert Avsec (Ret.) served with the Chesterfield (Va.) Fire & EMS Department for 26 years. He was an active instructor for fire, EMS, and hazardous materials courses at the local, state, and federal levels, which included more than 10 years with the National Fire Academy. Chief Avsec earned his bachelor of science degree from the University of Cincinnati and his master of science degree in executive fire service leadership from Grand Canyon University. He is a 2001 graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program. Since his retirement in 2007, he has continued to be a life-long learner working in both the private and public sectors to further develop his “management sciences mechanic” credentials. He makes his home near Charleston, W.Va. Contact Robert at Robert.Avsec@FireRescue1.com.

Learn more about emergency planning:

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4 Keys to Successful Emergency Management

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