Autopilot

posted Jan 12, 2015, 2:04 PM by Paul Halliday
I am just jotting this down because I have been thinking about it quite a bit.

During training this weekend we spent the morning practicing water shuttles and then returned to the station just after noon to practice some mock rescues.

After suiting up and putting my pack on I turned on my air right away because I thought the setup was ready to go. It turns out that they were still preparing the scene and we had to wait. I left my air on. 

The exercise itself was a building collapse (no fire) so hands and knees crawling under rows of tables looking for victims. It was actually a pretty arduous crawl; long with a lot of obstacles. We finally found the victim at the very end of the run (of course) that needed to be evacuated. She was unconscious (of course) so we decided the best option would be to drag her out the same crappy way we came in.

I removed the spectra straps I carry and looped them under her back and up through her arms. With one person controlling these and another her legs we could easily manoeuvre the body back through the obstacles and out. Unfortunately, after moving the body just a few feet a low air alarm went off.

The alarm was mine of course, I had wasted a lot of air waiting. We were told that it would be borderline for me to get back even without hauling a body so according to protocol I am now a victim with a higher priority. We leave her and get me out.

I outright objected to this; absurd I said. We are right here! we are going back anyway, let's just see how we make out.

Sounds easy huh? Unfortunately:

1)  It's going to make the situation worse
2)  It's not my call to make and we don't have time to mull it over anyway

It took me a while to come to this conclusion and this is why practice is so important. Conditions deteriorate so rapidly in situations like this and if we stop to think, ponder or mull over anything we make the situation worse. We had found a victim, we had her strapped and ready to go. This is a better situation for them than before. 

It was time to get out of there as quickly as possible and send another team back in.

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