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Control measure

Appropriate techniques for removal of casualties from unstable surfaces

Control measure knowledge

Mud and other unstable surfaces create suction on an entrapped person; as they attempt to move a vacuum can be created. Pulling a casualty trapped in mud without having taken prior action to reduce the effects of this vacuum such as digging out, lubricating or diluting the substance may cause additional harm. Excessive mechanical force should not be used to extricate casualties from entrapment in unstable surfaces.

When digging close to casualties, considerable care should be taken. The casualty may be numbed by the temperature of the mud and may not feel any contact with the spade or tool being used. Injury to the casualty caused by digging may not be immediately obvious.

In all but the most minor cases the casualty should not be allowed to walk out. Advice can be provided by ambulance personnel. Sudden release and attempts to stand may induce post rescue collapse. The casualty should be evacuated in as near a horizontal position as possible and passed to medical practitioners for treatment.

Casualties being removed from unstable surfaces may be suffering from physiological stress such as the effects of heat illness. See National Operational Guidance: Operations –­ Physiological stress.

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Take care when digging around casualties partially submerged in unstable ground

  • Consider the use of specialist equipment for rescues from unstable surfaces