First Response/Search & Rescue Gear/Equipment?

Drew.Gardonia

After my experience in Joplin, I realized I was a bit unprepared to assist in a first response, search and rescue type capacity.

Having only a pair of sturdy work boots in my trunk and a flashlight, I was limited in my abilities for fear of getting cut on nails (and having to get a tetanus shot as a result), or splintered wood which made sifting through the rubble in search of people difficult. Doesn't do a lot of good to go help, only to get injured and end up having to be rescued yourself.

So the next time I chase, I plan on having a tote in my trunk with some appropriate gear to be able to more readily respond to such a disaster and I'd like to know what items would make it more feasible to dig through the rubble.

So far here's my list.

Sturdy work boots (waterproof and steel toed if possible)
Thick heavy work gloves (to protect from rusty nails, broken glass, and splintered wood and twisted metal shrapnel)
good comfortable pair of work jeans/coveralls
heavy duty flashlight (extra batteries)
small backpack/fannypack with medical supplies (gauze, band-aids, medical tape, antibiotic ointment, disinfectant spray, small pair of scissors).
jacket/hoodie to deal with the rain/cold

I'd like to see what others have to add to this that maybe hasn't been thought about.
 
Apr 16, 2010
274
1
0
Omaha, NE
I think Joplin was the extreme case that had to be handled in a more organized/professional way because of all of the layers of heavy debris. So to just go digging through the rubble as a one man operation would be pretty futile. But, if you came across someone who knew that someone was buried under stacks of house debris etc... you'd be ready.

This is an interesting video I found:
[video]http://www.5newsonline.com/news/kfsm-local-rescue-response-in-tornado-disaster-20110504,0,6347846.story[/video]
 
Oct 10, 2006
213
13
11
Fort Worth, Texas
I would add steel shank boots, ankle high. Scrape your first aid stuff, what you listed would take care of a scratch or small lac. As someone else noted, Joplin (and other major storms) will inflict major injuries that will require a different set of EMS supplies. Also, if someone is going to a hospital, the last thing the ER wants to see is antibiotic creams or other salves. They'll have to spend extra time to clean the wound before treatment can be provided. Other things you should have is ANSI approved safety goggles (NOT glasses), N95 respiratory mask (paper type, not the industrial type), heavy, long sleeve shirt and an ANSI approved hard hat. Extra helmet light and flashlights and fresh batteries are a must. This should get you started.
 

J Tyler

EF3
Mar 6, 2010
247
9
11
Dallas TX/Born & Raised in OK
Greg, thank you for chiming in with that info. Please feel free to correct or add other thoughts to my post as well.

Traveling with the storm, chasers usually arrive on scene first. Growing up in a small town, you stand up when help is needed. BUT, I know my training is limited. Even so, I can help. I've driven victims to the hospital due to blood loss (not wanting to wait for help to arrive). My wife and I have fanned out in a neighborhood calling out, when firetrucks arrived we were able to tell them which houses we had gotten responses from and how many people were supposed to be in each house. We've used our ham radio to ask other hams to make phone calls for victims to let family know they were ok. We've searched along side local police/fire, marking houses that have been checked. It all depends on how local authorities welcome you, or don't welcome you.

Once responders arrive, I tell them what I know, then ask them if I can be of any assistance. 90% of the time, I'm told no. I then move on to see if there are any other areas where help has not arrived yet.

As for search/rescue equipment, my wife and I both have steel toe boots with puncture resistant sole plates to prevent us from stepping on nails. Reflective vests so we can see each other (and look less like looters). Heavy gloves. CERT hard hats. LED 'headlights' you wear. Maglights of all sizes, and a high powered searchlight.

Be careful of using flares in case there is a gas leak (very common) or gasoline on the ground.

Be ready to lose a few tires along the way. You'll be surprised how many flats you'll get when you venture into areas hit...

Small towns usually are VERY appreciative. The larger the town gets, the worse you'll be treated by the local police/fire. Thats been my personal experience.
 

Steven Yezek

I myself carry a basic truama kit (state certified EMT-I), Reflective safety vest, gloves, hardhat and flashlight. Once in a while I may through my turnout gear in as well. I would avoid using any flares, like tyler mentioned, you dont need to add any spark around possible gas leaks. The important thing is to keep it simple. No matter what you carry, when you come into a town that has been hit, you wont have enough supplies to do everything. But no matter what you do, always remember one thing. Scene safety... You cant help anyone if you get hurt, plus you've just added to the problem. I know we all want to help, and many can do simple things. But I urge people to avoid doing too much unless you've had some training, rather it be through a first aid class, Fire dept training, or CERT. Plus always work in pairs. But I cant stress enough the importance of scene safety
 

Jason Foster

You'll have to pardon me, but I only carry a basic 1st Aid kit. I think in general chasers need to be a get in and get out crowd. I know there is a lot of talk, and many have jumped on this first responder business (for some it's a great marketing / attention getting maneuver), but it seems to be getting a little silly now. It's still a recreation for many...and all this extra equipment seems silly.

That said...if you are already coming from that EMT type background...Thank You...seriously appreciate what you do.
 

rdale

EF5
Mar 1, 2004
6,962
486
21
49
Lansing, MI
skywatch.org
all this extra equipment seems silly.
It won't when you stumble upon a scene with people injured and need of help - and all you can do is drive away. There's an interesting article in this month's IAEM newsletter talking about how society is becoming more and more introverted with time. People have no need or desired to help others in their community like they did in the 50's. I agree, and don't think it's a good trend.
 
Wow Jason thats a pretty ignorant statement ... I guess the truckers that was injured in there semis On I 44 in Joplin was pretty fortunate we stopped instead of you huh ? You see that day I was with Cloud 9 Tours ..WHO the paying Guest were there for recreation...But were the first to jump out of the vehicles and assist many of the semis that were mangled .......But yea your right First Responders is for attention seekers ....... Drew I carry a pick axe..Maul ..straps ..2 extension chords..two work lights ..sawzaw...impact drill ...a trauma bag enough to assist 10 people ... steal toe boots ...a head lamp...and gloves ... and Pillows and blankets
 

Jason Foster

It won't when you stumble upon a scene with people injured and need of help - and all you can do is drive away. There's an interesting article in this month's IAEM newsletter talking about how society is becoming more and more introverted with time. People have no need or desired to help others in their community like they did in the 50's. I agree, and don't think it's a good trend.
Well, there is also the matter of people helping and acting beyond their ability. THIS is the point I'm trying to make. Some have exhibited that they have no business helping. I'm not saying that if you can help, you shouldn't. But from FB to even a few here, that they may be pushing their abilities and legal liability limits. And we do live in a very litigious society...so it does draw hesitation. Remember the ARES / RACES folks that we all heard about trying to tell COPS what to do because they felt they had some authority on a scene or situation, that is the danger here.

Wow Jason thats a pretty ignorant statement ... I guess the truckers that was injured in there semis On I 44 in Joplin was pretty fortunate we stopped instead of you huh ? You see that day I was with Cloud 9 Tours ..WHO the paying Guest were there for recreation...But were the first to jump out of the vehicles and assist many of the semis that were mangled .......But yea your right First Responders is for attention seekers ....... Drew I carry a pick axe..Maul ..straps ..2 extension chords..two work lights ..sawzaw...impact drill ...a trauma bag enough to assist 10 people ... steal toe boots ...a head lamp...and gloves ... and Pillows and blankets
You know...if you want to start a flame war, take it someplace else man. You are taking it too personal. If you wanted a more in-depth response...well you screwed the pooch. I'll only say you are DEAD WRONG in your assessment ! ! You also didn't think about what I was saying.
 

J Allen

EF1
Mar 7, 2010
79
0
5
Palisades, NY
Drew and Others - Regarding First aid kits/preparedness,
The big thing if you are concerned is response time. First response is very important for most of these scenarios as time is a real limiting factor on life in a high grade trauma. Airway compromised - 5 minutes before brain damage, Arterial bleed - 2-30 minutes alive depending on the artery and situation, CPR required - 5 minute window, Spinal Injury/Neck Injury - Immobilising the patient and giving them support may mean they get to walk again. I won't claim to be a medical expert, because I am not (if you want the best advice ask Jason Persof), but I do have reasonable first aid training and wilderness first aid background. In terms of kit I don't carry too heavy (if I was based in the states I would carry a bigger kit, as space is an issue for me), but the kit I have is extensive enough that I can help multiple people with moderate injuries, or a couple if more significant - A lot of it is non-stick dressings/ material to staunch/control bleeding and for dealing with blood loss, Saline for irrigation (though generally should be left to the professionals unless extended period before treatment), CPR mask, gloves, note pad/paper (hint gathering a history from the person if at all possible is one of the most valuable bits of info you can give to medical people, saves their time and helps triage). I also carry a brand new ventolin puffer...its a little odd but these sort of things can trigger stress induced asthma and people who have lost their puffers might be in trouble. It also doubles in case I run into trouble with my normal ;). Another thing to think about for your kit is that it may not be just this situation for which it is applied - imagine you or your chase partner got struck by lightning or a road accident? One other thing. If you are dealing with a serious trauma don't just be bound by your first aid kit, belts make effective tourniquets for the various conditions that require them, clean shirts can be ripped and used to pad around an injury, etc etc.

When it comes to the first aid realistically the most important thing is to determine to the best of your abilities if injuries are life threatening and countering that until the professionals arrive. Only do what you are qualified and comfortable to do (if you can't handle blood/gore/injuries in a calm cool manner, stay out of it despite what people might say - if you are going to fall to pieces in the damage area you are not going to be of much use, in saying this if you are the only one close try to help if you possibly can).

As for other items:
- Adequate footwear is a must- steel-capped boots preferred.
- High quality work gloves if your going to have to move debris
- Good quality torch and spare batteries.
- A bright shirt/jacket/wet weather gear - so you are visible.

After that for me it becomes a fire service/people with the right equipment exercise...when I was on the scene of the Grove EF-3 on the same day as Joplin I could only get so far into the damage path safely, and knowing that properly equipped firefighters were only a mile away I chose to search where I could, and finding no-one in danger I then went and notified the fire crew who quickly responded (all told they were there within 10 minutes of the damage being inflicted, my help was no longer required so I was able to continue chasing).

Anyway I hope this is of use.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Apr 1, 2009
124
1
0
Indialantic, FL
I'm not sure you can prepare for a Joplin type scenario. It was reported that ambulances had run out of supplies 4 hours into the incident, and they're pretty well stocked. ;)

I think having a first aid kit is a must, and of course taylor it to your abilities. Someone with basic CPR training doesn't need a combitube intubation kit. Remember that the good Samaritan laws differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In some areas you aren't covered if you're providing medical care beyond your training. As an EMT I do carry a few extra goodies, but I can't carry enough for a mass casualty situation. You have to remember most medical supplies expire.

Having said all that I think the number 1 important thing for everyone is gloves, and I'm talking latex type gloves. If you get blood or other fluids on your skin you're taking a huge risk. (even greater than chasing storms LOL) Even if you're not medically trained you can help at the direction of medical personnel, and you'll want gloves. Besides they're cheap and they come in handy for car repairs too. :cool:

Reasonable footwear is also a must. I'm not carrying FF boots with me, but I do remember yelling at the TV when I watched Timmer hunt through rubble in flip flops. #epicfail
 
May 2, 2010
186
25
11
Springfield, IL
It seems to me, based on the chaser accounts I've read over the past couple of years, that aside from extreme events like Joplin, chasers don't usually have to get involved in heavy duty search and rescue operations. More often than not they may simply have to wade through some debris to make sure that the occupants of a house or car are OK, or to round up some farm animals (this occurred during a chase not too far from me near Girard IL back in April). In that case, just making sure you're properly dressed or equipped with closed-toe shoes or boots, rain gear, and work gloves, some basic hand tools, plus a basic first aid kit, is probably sufficient 99.9 percent of the time.
 
I have often found over the years that chasers can play an important part in disaster scene assistance. But as others have noted, making sure the scene is safe is critical.

In many situations, chasers without advanced medical training can only do so much for the injured. In most tornado strike situations there are a lot of blunt trauma, broken bones, impaled objects and bleeding. If chasers can learn three first-aid things well, controlling bleeding, treating for shock and spine protection it might be the best way to go. When it comes to CPR and advanced treatments, these procedures *may* be less common (on scene) since triage procedures often dictate who is assisted or not. These are often very hard choices.

As for assisting, chasers without medical experience can always lend a hand by helping to clear streets and guide rescuers and medical personnel to victims. Some of the biggest dangers include live power lines, gas leaks, nails and sharp objects, falling debris (from existing damage), chemical / bio hazards and storm-related dangers like lightning.

As for basic equipment: as an EMT I carry a basic trauma bag with a LOT of sterile bandages / wraps since these will be most useful in mass disaster situations. When I covered Hurricane Katrina in Biloxi, MS, these came in handy.

As for basic safety equipment to carry:

Road flares
Heavy duty mechanic / swat gloves and surgical gloves
A really good flashlight w/extra batteries
A reflective vest
A basic first aid kit with extra wraps, tape and bandages
A sharp folding knife
Good boots with Kevlar or steel protection. (Converse makes a great shoe but they are expensive. Boot no: 6750)
Fire extinguisher

W.