How many movies and TV shows have you seen where someone is trapped inside a small space, such as a wrecked vehicle, collapsed building, partially submerged channel, or underground tunnel? Then, rescue workers work tirelessly to free that person from a hazardous and potentially lethal situation? That is not just entertainment, but something that people train for in real life.
What is Confined Space Entry and Rescue Training?
Confined space entry and rescue training prepares you with the proper skills to assess the situation and determine the right course of action. The "confined space" part comes from the fact that the person is in a narrow space, often with limited access from the outside, potentially hazardous elements, and poor visibility and lighting.
What Situations Are You Trained to Address?
When you are dealing with people who have to be rescued from tight, limited-option spaces, there are generally three types of rescue scenarios:
Self-rescue – this is not really a "rescue" scenario since the person involved is able to exit through his or her own ability. These can also be situations where an external party, such as security, may order the evacuation of an area that is potentially hazardous.
Rescue where entry is not required – this is where the person who is confined is still mobile and capable of assisting in their own rescue. Often, that person is unable to determine the best option to get out of the space; he or she needs to be talked through the plan to get out of that area.
Rescue where rescuer must enter the space to help the individual – this is the most extreme situation. Often, the rescuer must go into a confined space, with poor visibility, dangerous situations or substances, and remove a semi-conscious, unconscious, or hurt individual.
What Tools and Equipment Do You Learn?
The tools used to effect a confined space rescue often vary with the specifics of the situation. In general, there is a focus on making sure that breathable air is available to those who are trapped and that dangerous gases and other substances can be removed from the environment. In the short term, providing a breathing hole or opening can be created using specialized equipment or just prying open spaces to provide more airflow.
For below ground situations, winches, cables, and harnesses may be used, so any training will have some component of how to safely attach and use these devices – these may be referred to as retrieval cables and winches. Keep in mind, there are specialized versions of these to conform to OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) regulations, so you will likely learn the types and methods to safely use these devices.