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Searching large compartments

In larger compartments, multiple teams will need to be committed in a co-ordinated way to ensure the compartment is thoroughly searched and team safety is maintained. The directional search procedure does not necessarily mean that a team will clear a compartment before moving on to the next compartment.

It may not be possible to search large compartments entirely using conventional search procedures, as BA teams may not be able to access the centre of the compartment safely, whilst maintaining contact with a fixed reference point. When large compartments are encountered, additional control measures may need to be implemented to enable a complete search. This may include the use of thermal imaging equipment, tactical ventilation and BA guidelines.

Progressive example of a BA team performing a left-hand directional search of large compartments

Left/right-hand orientation

Both compartment and directional search procedures will employ a left- or right-hand orientation. This means that the team leader will use and follow the left- or right-hand wall as their fixed reference point to ensure the search is orientated and systematic. This left- or right-hand orientation will apply as soon as a BA team passes through the point of entry and throughout their time in the risk area.

Other than under the most extreme and exceptional circumstances, when visibility is poor or deteriorating the BA team leader  should remain in contact with the wall or with fittings integral to the wall at all times. Maintaining the wall as a fixed reference point, either by touch or vision, is a cornerstone of the safety and effectiveness of these procedures.

For further information regarding searching for casualties refer to National Operational Guidance: Performing rescues – Lack of co-ordinated search plan (generic)