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by the NFCC

Control measure

Deploy adequate personnel and resources: Rescues

Control measure knowledge

The final phase of any casualty rescue should whenever possible be clinically led by a medical responder. It should be completed as carefully and expediently as possible, causing minimum disruption to the casualty and be fully sympathetic to their injuries. It requires a safe, rapid, and controlled removal which should be carried out gently. Rough handling and unnecessary movement can worsen the casualty’s injuries.

The rescue of a casualty should be supported by a plan that considers:

  • The level of injuries to the casualty and overall threat to life
  • Whether the casualty requires, or would benefit from, immediate medical attention and if so, whether this can be provided prior to their extrication
  • Whether the rescue will require the use of tools or equipment

The plan should be communicated to personnel and may entail:

  • Providing immediate medical attention
  • The need for the immediate or emergency release of the casualty
  • How to minimise trauma to the casualty during their rescue
  • Rescue of the casualty without the use of tools or equipment
  • More detailed and lengthier extrication, using appropriate tools and equipment

The hazards of rescuing a casualty will reduce if an adequate number of personnel with associated resources can be deployed. For example, the demands of manual handling a casualty are less due to the shared load, and the rescue may be completed in a shorter time.

For some rescues, an important consideration will be the team size. This should be appropriate to the task and the team equipped with the necessary resources. The type and amount of resources required should be based on:

  • The weight of the casualty
  • The location
  • The space available
  • Manual handling requirements
  • Presence of secondary hazards

The physiological stress on personnel when rescuing a casualty should be considered. Sufficient personnel should be available to support adequate crew rotation. For further information refer to:

Additional and specialist resources

Some rescues may require personnel or equipment that are not part of the initial response. Evaluating the available capabilities and the likely development of the incident will help determine the appropriate resources. An early request for additional or specialist resources will support a timely rescue of a casualty. These resources may include heavy-duty or specialist cutting equipment, or heavy recovery vehicles.

For further information refer to:

When requesting resources, consider using fire and rescue service systems to review available non-emergency assets, taking into account their availability, hours of operation and travel times to the incident. For example, crane operators and heavy recovery operators may only be available during normal working hours, may only operate in daylight and may take a significant time to mobilise and arrive.

Urban search and rescue (USAR) can assist with rescues in all settings. The nearest USAR tactical adviser (TacAd) should be contacted for advice on the mobilisation of resources. Refer to Request National Resilience resources for search and rescue

Resources required for body recovery

The police have responsibility for body recovery, and will normally arrange for a deceased casualty to be removed following an incident. Occasionally the fire and rescue service will be required to recover a body, when life has been declared extinct or following the required investigation process of the appropriate authority.

The police may request the assistance of the fire and rescue service if the deceased casualty is trapped by an object, machinery or a mode of transport, or is in a complex location, such as at height or below ground.

A risk assessment should consider the potential impact on personnel carrying out this task, given that the benefits of recovering a deceased casualty may be considered lower than those of a casualty rescue.

For further information about the moving of bodies refer to Operations - Preserve evidence for investigation.

Resources for rescues involving hazardous materials

Fire and rescue services may attend incidents with a detected or undetected potential for the presence of chemicals, devices such as improvised explosive devices (IEDs), or individual chemical exposure (ICE). These types of rescue may additionally require specialist control measures or resources for hazardous material incidents. For further information refer to Hazardous materials – Scene survey: Hazardous materials.

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Ensure relevant personnel have an understanding of the National Resilience capabilities

  • Maintain a directory of specialist resources for incidents

  • Consider developing memoranda of understanding for assisting other agencies with body recovery

  • Have arrangements to enable the request of specialist rescue equipment that may be required at incidents

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Develop and communicate a casualty access, rescue and treatment plan, including priorities and risks

  • Consider a rapid rescue or stabilise a casualty in situ awaiting full extrication, where it is safe to do so

  • Consider providing immediate and appropriate medical attention

  • Use appropriate methods to gain access to and rescue the casualty, while minimising trauma

  • Consider the type and location of secondary hazards, which may change throughout the incident

  • Deploy adequate personnel and resources to safely rescue casualties

  • Consider requesting additional or specialist resources to assist with the rescue of casualties

  • Ensure there are sufficient personnel available to support adequate crew rotation

  • Carry out a risk assessment that includes the impact on personnel, if assisting with body recovery