EMC288 Confined Space Response        Release 5/7/01

An article in the March 2001 Net Control publication from Orange
County RACES stimulated this bulletin. Kudo's to Ray Grimes,
W6RYS, Chief Radio Officer, OC RACES, for his article titled
"Did you Know? First Responder Personal Safety".

Ray points out that "while it is unlikely that we would truly be
"first responder, we could be called upon to provide early
search and rescue planning information at an incident, and it is
vital that we understand all of the issues surrounding us, in the
mindset of a fireman."

"Federal and State OSHA regulations specify confined space work
practices. These may include use of atmosphere monitoring
devices, only working in pairs with a 'buddy', never going into
the confined location if the first responder appears to have
become unconscious, and wearing a harness with rope when entering
tight spaces among fallen debris, and of course, always wear a
non-conductive hard hat.

Some excellent First Responder Awareness recommendations come
from the Basic Online Disaster Emergency Response project web
site (B.O.L.D.E.R) which can be found at:

These are:
- establish command/control (scene management)
- detect the presence of hazardous materials
- begin identification of hazards
- evacuation
- decontamination/personnel protection
- isolate incident/identify zones of activity
- contain incident without risking exposure
- seek additional appropriate resources

Some essential attitudes for responders 'first on the scene':
- hazardous materials incidents are not routine calls
- every responder must be aware of their capabilities/limitations
- primary responsibility of every first responder is to promote
  safety for all
- coordinate and communicate with all agencies responding to the

The article also points out that "prior to entering the confined
space area, stop and assess conditions. Is your presence detrimental
to the search and rescue operation? Is the space in the room only
large enough for the victims, rescuers and their equipment? Are
there hazardous conditions present? If in doubt, ask the Fire
Department before entering. If the firemen are wearing breathing
apparatus, then that should serve as a hint that without similar
equipment, you don't belong there. Are there risks such as a natural
gas leak, live wires, or running water? Running water may only be
an annoyance, but it can also produce a lethal pat for electricity,
or a warning of possible roof collapse."

The article challenges responders to think on our feet when the
adrenaline is pumping. Let's do it!

 Cary Mangum, W6WWW