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Lifting and Stabilizing: Cribbing Overview

Lifting and Stabilizing: Cribbing Overview

A proper cribbing technique is demonstrated during a recent training exercise on lifting and stabilizing. (Photo: David Pease)

David Pease, Carolina Fire/Rescue/EMS Journal

You will find that wood cribbing blocks will last fairly long and are relatively inexpensive. Your timber step cribs and wedges do not hold up as well, as I prefer plastic for these. There are also plastic cribbing on the market that is fully load rated and petroleum resistant. There are basically two types, the “Lincoln Log” style by Turtle Plastics and the “Lego” style by Res-Q-Tec.

Both get the job done and both have distinctive advantages.

Now, let’s look at what our goals are when we stabilize a vehicle(s). This is when the physics kick in. We have to consider weights, gravity, forces, and “where there is an action, there is an opposite and equal reaction.” There are five movements we want to overcome.

The first is “vertical movement” where in relation to the ground, the vehicle moves up and down on its vertical axis. Next is the horizontal movement, where the vehicle moves forward or backwards on its longitudinal axis or side to side on its lateral axis. The third consideration is the pitch, where the vehicle moves up and down its lateral axis causing the front end to rise and fall.

Yaw is the next movement to look at, as the vehicle twists or turns on its vertical axis causing the front and rear end to move left or right. Then last is roll, where the vehicle rocks side to side while rotating about its longitudinal axis and maintaining a horizontal orientation. I am sure you are now somewhat confused.

However, these are the movements we should be looking for and considering when doing our stabilization. Do we always consider all of these? We probably do not. Perhaps we should look at stabilizing the vehicles like trying to stabilize a ball, or at least concentrating on preventing most all types of movement. If the vehicle slips a couple of inches, is that a real problem?

It is, if one of your rescuers has a finger or hand in the wrong place. So spend that extra minute to make sure that all the vehicles are stabilized and extrication work can be done safely.


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