Rendering Aid to Storm Victims

Oct 17, 2006
64
0
0
Denver, Colorado
To be clear, I'm not saying chasers should or should not help. I'm putting thoughts out for discussion.

Hearing about the chasers who rendered aid after the recent Mapleton, IA tornado has made me start thinking about how chasers are helping. I don't for a moment question their motives for stopping, I commend them. I am, however, curious about how they helped.

I am also posing the questions: Despite the desire to help, are untrained, ill-equipped chasers further complicating the disaster scene and increasing the stress for emergency personnel? Does the benefit of untrained chasers trying to help outweigh the risk to the chasers and patients? (Downed lines, gas leaks, sharp debris, etc.)

And here's why:

I'm attending EMT school at the moment and nothing is stressed more than personal safety and scene safety. The reasoning is simple: If you're injured, you cannot help anyone else and you further stress any available resources. You create another patient.

Additionally, one of the first things EMS providers do is consider spinal stabilization. People without training or equipment should not be moving ANYONE who can't move (unless they weren't able to walk prior to the storm). Or unless they're in immediate danger. If they are already walking, well then it's not such an issue.

I'd like to hear thoughts on this from local emergency managers, firefighter/medics, etc. I'd also like to hear from chasers who have stopped to render aid.
 
May 31, 2004
1,895
43
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Peotone, IL
illinoisstormchasers.com
From another thread:

I am trained up the ace. lol EMT/CPR/Technical Rescue/Hazmat(for when Lucio takes off his socks post chase) just to name a few... I needed most if not all of these certs after I became involved in the fire service, but it really pays off to have these in chasing. When I came up on the scene the other night my number one motive was getting people away from the house and making sure no medical attention was needed. I carry my jump bag and turn out gear with me every chase and am always prepared for the worst. Thankfully I have never needed to use it. Please remember though, don't be a hero and do things you aren't familiar with. The last thing we want is someone romping around with a vest pulling people out of wreckage before it was planned out and executed in the best way.

I know you all want to help, but please be careful when you are rescuing people. Make sure you find out what hurts before you move them, if they are unconscious please seek out a paramedic. It is admirable that people want to help, but focus on clearing the debris from the patient rather than directly moving them from it. Unless you are trained you may be doing more harm than good. With that being said, if they are walking on their own and not complaining of anything, but just can't get out, by all means please help them! It is those with broken limbs and complaints of back pain that I am warning you about.

This is just some advice from someone in the FF/EMT profession.
 

DRMabe

EF1
Nov 29, 2010
99
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Winston Salem NC
I know basic first aid and I'm CPR certified. I was a vol firefighter for 5 years, and had some experience with car accident victims. I always carry 2 full first aid kits in my vehicle, and even though I'm a man, I carry 2 boxes of ladies pads. Some might laugh, but they make excellent compress pads for deep cuts and punctures. A guy that was a first aid instructor told us about using them during a class.

As said above, you always have to take care of yourself first. If you become a victim yourself, you're just hindering the aid for the people that needed it first.
 
Jan 7, 2007
177
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Troy, MO
I second what Danny says too. "Rescuing" and "Rendering Aid" are two different things. If you have uninjured people that are trapped and you assess the scene and it is safe, then getting them free of debris would be fine. I have medical training and at Yazoo City, I just held inline stabilization on a victim until we could get a spine board up there. By then I had some rough vitals, had assessed the victim and had suspicions of a few diagnosis, and had located sources of bleeding. I would have to say that if the scene is safe AND you aren't grossed/freaked out by seeing injured people then by all means do what you can until local, trained personnel get there. In Yazoo City there were chasers running messages to people, getting bottles of water to the local EMS/first responders, helping people with carrying injured folks on spine boards, etc. Heck, carry a chain saw or a saw in the trunk and help remove limbs from roads. The way I see it is if we are going to clog up the roads while we chase then we should try to lend a hand if we can....and ALWAYS find out who is in charge when they establish a command post, introduce yourself, and volunteer your services. They may tell you to go which is fine. **Also, if you feel compelled to help, check with your local law enforcement, fire department, EMS, etc for some training. I believe CERT is the popular one for disaster scenes. Simple rules like not moving victims, not giving them food/water, etc are important to know.

**Also, I realize many people just can't make themselves do something like that. I understand completely. In that case, do your best to stay on the storm and relay reports to the NWS and try to stay respectful to the victims when celebrating on social media.
 

J Allen

EF1
Mar 7, 2010
79
0
5
Palisades, NY
Its a difficult one, some people do feel compelled to help, while others can't handle it. I'm certified to the mid range first aid and CPR and am pretty hard to make squeamish, but I wouldn't go out of my way to go to somewhere like Mapleton if I wasn't already driving through. If I was placed in a situation where I can see people needed help and nobody/very few are available to render it, I would be helping out. Naturally I would be assessing dangers prior to entering a scene, all the emergency services need is another casualty, and there are alot of hazards in tornado damaged areas. Part of the reasoning for helping would be for the fact that people don't know how to do the assessment/vitals/mindful of not moving the patient and by being in the vicinity it would be rather selfish of me not to use those skills. The thing is that by doing the basics to ensure clear airway, keeping the patient calm and not moving them unless they are in direct danger, you can help save a person (those few minutes with a blocked airway make a huge difference) and get the information needed by the paramedics/EMTs so that it makes their job much easier and they can render the best possible assistance after handover.

Anyway I can understand the will to help, but people shouldn't engage in anything that is above their training or skill level otherwise it might endanger people.
 

cedwards

EF5
Feb 3, 2005
556
0
5
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Shawnee, OK
www.cloud9tours.com
Back in 1995 I was blasted online by a county EMD for not rendering aid after witnessing a tornado. He replied to my chase summary. I saw the tornado from a distance and did not enter the town. Emergency personnel were streaming into town. Back then I was not trained and would have just been in the way. Now I have had some minimal training for light search and rescue. I have only stopped and searched a house one time. I went in along with local EM personnel.
I will only stop and render aid if I feel I can do some good. I know not to do anything that I am not traind for and not equipped to do.
 

DRMabe

EF1
Nov 29, 2010
99
0
6
Winston Salem NC
Back in 1995 I was blasted online by a county EMD for not rendering aid after witnessing a tornado. He replied to my chase summary. I saw the tornado from a distance and did not enter the town. Emergency personnel were streaming into town. Back then I was not trained and would have just been in the way. Now I have had some minimal training for light search and rescue. I have only stopped and searched a house one time. I went in along with local EM personnel.
I will only stop and render aid if I feel I can do some good. I know not to do anything that I am not traind for and not equipped to do.
Theres nothing wrong with that. Help if you can, but like you said, not knowing what you're doing can actually cause more harm or be in the way. If you don't feel comfortable rendering first aid, just staying with a patient and talking to them can help comfort them. You can help locate victims that may be trapped and guide help to them. Like mentioned above, clearing debris from roadway or being a gopher can help. There are a number of things you can do that you don't have to be trained to do.