Big Truck Extrication - Part 2: Assessment and Stabilization
David Pease, Carolina Fire/Rescue/EMS Journal
You will probably have to stabilize not only the tractor, but the trailer as well, especially if the two are still attached to each other. In stabilizing, we shoot for a minimum of three points but four would be better. This means that if you have to stabilize both the tractor and trailer, six to eight points need to be set. As with any vehicle stabilization, you have to look at how the truck is resting.
If the truck is on its side, then it may be relatively stable and only need to be kept from sliding. Another big help when it comes to stabilizing and extrication is the use of your local towing and recovery service. These services are a little different than your standard wrecker service, as they have much larger wreckers that are capable of towing tractor trailers.
You should contact your nearest towing and recovery service and set up training with your department. This will allow your folks to see just what they can do with these large wreckers and what their capabilities may be. It will also build a good relationship with the service so when the need arises, both your department and the wrecker service can work together to get the job done.
We train once a year with or local towing and recovery service and I teach heavy truck extrication classes where we bring in the local large wrecker service to train together. Some of these services have large air bags capable of up righting a full size tractor and trailer. These may work quite well if you have a vehicle under the truck and it has to be lifted.
The most important thing to remember is that when stabilizing large trucks, you are working with substantially more weight and size. This in itself creates a hazard for the rescuers. Caution should be used when approaching an accident involving large trucks, and putting that stabilization in place. During your assessment, decide how you want to stabilize the vehicles and put that plan in action. Always have your Safety Officer watching closely as you work toward making the vehicles safe for extrication. As with any motor vehicle crash, a charged line should be in place and manned at all times.
As you can see, working with large trucks, pose a slightly different type of problem. They are much heavier and larger than your standard vehicles. They may require much more equipment and outside resources to safely conduct a successful extrication. Since these are not your everyday vehicle extrications, your department should train and practice the stabilizing of tractor trailers. Contact your near by large wrecker service, and they may even have some trucks you can train and practice your skills. Good stabilization is critical in all vehicle extrications and should be emphasized and practiced.
Until next time, stay safe, train to your best, remember that knowledge can be a wonderful thing, and to not have tried is to have not achieved. “It’s all about training.”