In order for a rehab operation to be completely successful, the area must be easily located and defined. In this photo, the rehab area is specifically designated by use of blue traffic cones. Photo: Phoenix Fire Department
From having to respond in the heat and humidity of summer and in the freezing temperatures and biting winds of winter, I believe the demands associated with firefighting and other emergency operations exceed those of just about any other occupation. Emergency incident rehabilitation for firefighters and other first responders is there to ensure that our well-being while operating at the scene of an emergency or training exercise does not deteriorate to the point where it affects our health and safety. It can prevent serious and life-threatening conditions – such as heat stroke and heart attacks, a leading cause of on-duty firefighter fatalities – from occurring.
Firefighters who are not provided adequate rest and rehydration are at increased risk for illness or injury. This not only jeopardizes our safety, but can put the safety of others working with us at the incident scene at risk. When we become fatigued, reaction time is reduced and our ability to make critical decisions diminishes.
Rehabilitation is not just for emergencies; do not forget that training requires effective rehabilitation.
In 1992, USFA developed its original Emergency Incident Rehabilitation manual. It was published again in 2008, in partnership with the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), to ensure that the latest information on the care of firefighters engaged in emergency scene and training operations was made available. The manual also provides case studies illustrating the need for effective emergency responder rehabilitation. I strongly encourage you to download or order a copy free of charge from USFA.
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1584, Standard on the Rehabilitation Process for Members During Emergency...
, establishes minimum criteria for developing and implementing a rehabilitation process for fire department members and would also be of interest to anyone interested in this topic.
Does your department have a rehabilitation program for your firefighters and other emergency responders? Do you have an operational time period where firefighters and other responders must get rehabilitation? Do you initiate medical screening during rehabilitation?
If you would like to learn more about USFA’s Emergency Incident Rehabilitation manual and study, please visit our Web site.
Source: USFA Blog
Meet the Author
Bill Troup is a Fire Program Specialist with the USFA’s National Fire Programs Division, National Fire Data Center. He manages numerous research and special studies in firefighter and emergency responder health and safety areas. Bill has nearly thirty years experience in emergency services and continues to serve in his community as a firefighter/EMS provider.