Confined space rescue is a subset of operations that involves the rescue and recovery of victims trapped in a or in a place only accessible through confined spaces, such as underground.
Confined space rescues can be technically challenging due to the environment in which they occur. Confined spaces are often narrow and constricting preventing easy access by rescuers – this is why 999 will not do! The emergency services are not equipped to deal with such confined and small areas of entry. It is important to have a confined space rescue team as part of your health and safety strategy. Bio Clean Jetting’s Confined space rescue usually takes place either in unlit or poorly lit area, so rescuers must provide their own light source and specialist equipment. A confined space rescue team are literally putting their lives on the line.
Finally, confined spaces often contain in or form which can be harmful or fatal to humans. These hazards can be fatal as they create a limited time in which to perform a rescue. The general rule is that after four minutes without oxygen, a person in a confined space will likely suffer resulting in death.
The urgent need to rescue someone from a confined space often leads to ill-prepared rescue attempts. Two-thirds of all of deaths occurring in confined spaces are attributed to persons attempting to rescue someone else.
There are three categories of confined space rescue:
- self rescue,
- non-entry rescue,
- and entry rescue.
In a self-rescue, much as the name suggests, the individual recognizes a critical condition or symptoms of exposure and exits the space on his or her own. Alternatively, an entry monitor, who is outside of the space, may recognise a new hazard and order individuals to leave the space before they are affected. This is the preferred rescue method as confined space hazards can quickly incapacitate or kill an individual.
An individual can almost always exit a confined space in far less time than it takes to wait for someone to come in and retrieve them. A non-entry rescue involves attempting to extricate an incapacitated person without having anyone else enter the confined space. This can be done via a safety line attached to the personnel in the confined space or by grabbing the personnel with a strap or pole and pulling them to safety.
This is a last resort option as having more personnel enter an area that has already incapacitated one or more persons places the rescuer at considerable risk. Entry rescues must be carefully planned and executed to avoid creating more victims in need of rescue. Rescuers need to be aware of their surroundings and must reevaluate their plans immediately if there is any change in the conditions of the confined space. In the event of an entry rescue, standby rescuers are recommended in the event that the initial entry rescuer(s) encounter trouble.
Due to the unique nature of confined space rescues, there is specialized equipment necessary to perform a safe and successful rescue. One of the initial pieces of equipment employed in a confined space is a to disperse collected hazardous gases and introduce fresh into the environment.
A wristlet is often the first item used to actually perform the rescue, as opposed to the ventilator which is used to prepare the environment for a rescue. A wristlet is a cloth strap that is used to tightly around the wrist or ankle of an incapacitated person. Once the strap is looped around a hand or foot, its attached rope is pulled by rescuers, tightening around the arm or leg and pulling the victim out of the confined space.
In the event that an entry rescue must be performed, rescue personnel will wear appropriate for the situation. This may include a (SCBA), protective headgear and the use of lighting (to prevent any gases). The rescuer may also wear a full body with an attached safety line, especially if a vertical descent is required. To assist in vertical descents, a and tripod may be set up over the access point, if the bottom of the confined space is more than five feet from the entrance.