"Rendering Aid"

Feb 19, 2007
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Austin, Texas
www.randydenzer.com
“Rendering Aid”



If you are an active spotter/chaser, you run a pretty good chance of eventually arriving first on the scene of destroyed homes or communities. These scenes can be a very dangerous environment with many hazards ranging from panicked citizens and animals to downed power lines that can re-energize at any time. Knowing what to do and what not to do can not only save your life, but the lives of others. Spring severe weather season brings with it a lot of discussions about what to do or not do when coming across storm damaged areas. Your actions can truly save lives, or can make the problem worse. We would like to provide some basic tips to keep you safe while making a big difference for those needing help.



STEP 1, CALL 911. The first critical step every spotter/chaser should take when either witnessing or coming upon destroyed homes is to activate the first response system as soon as possible. This is usually through calling 911, but can also be performed through HAM and other communications. It is critical that the notification is made as soon as possible to allow dispatch systems to both gauge the magnitude and location of the damage path and to send resources. TIME IS CRITICAL! Notification in itself is the first form of “Rendering Aid”, and for those with little or no first aid or incident safety training, calling 911 immediately may be the most important thing you can do to help.



STAY ALIVE, WAIT FOR HELP TO ARRIVE. What you do after calling 911 depends upon your training, capabilities, and comfort level. I advocate that no one puts themselves in a situation in which they get themselves hurt and/or become part of the problem. YOUR SAFETY IS THE NUMBER ONE PRIORITY! Remember, these disaster scenes are riddled with things that can hurt you or kill you. The simple act of walking through a disaster scene is one of the most dangerous things first responders do, and they are trained to mitigate or avoid the hazards. Calling 911 and staying back until properly equipped firefighters arrive may be your best option. Rendering Aid can be as simple as little things like offering a storm victim a place to sit out of the rain, offering them a drink of water, or just showing you care during their time of need.



Good Samaritan laws generally protect people who stop to help as long as their actions are reasonable and within their scope of training/education. If you are a trained in first aid, you can perform those activities that you have been trained on, but you must perform them the way you were trained. Keep in mind, the more training or medical/rescue equipment you carry with you means the more liability you assume. In some states, trained professional first responders may be required to stop and help (if they are within the state they are certified).



GET TRAINING. We would like to encourage every spotter reading this to get formal first aid and CPR training. One of the first steps taught in providing first aid is “Scene Safety”, if the scene is not safe, do not proceed (see the previous topics!). Having first aid and/or CPR training does not make you a first responder, but it helps to guide you to safely help those you may come across that are injured. You will never know when you will have to put your first aid training to use and your first patient may end up being yourself or a loved one. It pays to know first aid and CPR. It is a very good thing to be able to make a positive difference!



A fantastic program that offers disaster and emergency scene training is “Community Emergency Response Training” or CERT training. For more information go to: https://www.ready.gov/community-emergency-response-team



BE HELPFUL, BUT DON’T GET IN THE WAY. When the first responders arrive, their initial action will be to provide a “size-up” of the area. This “size-up” is used to determine the number of resources needed to manage the incident. The most helpful thing you can do for a first arriving responder is to let them know what you know in 10 seconds or less. If you have training, you may offer your help, they may or may not need it. Remember that the initial first responders may be stressed just trying to understand the magnitude of the incident (size-up). Do not take shortness or lack of interest personal, they have a big job to do and they are trying to figure out what they need to address. Be ready to get out of the way once you have provided them with your report. If you have done this correctly, I can attest that it is appreciated, even though the first responders may not show it at that moment.



In closing, “Rendering Aid” comes in many forms and is the human side of spotting/chasing when you are the first one to roll into a storm ravaged area. It starts with calling 911 to get help on its way to those who need it. It may be the only thing you can do, but it is a critical lifesaving action. Your first obligation is always to ensure your own safety. It is good to be a Good Samaritan!



Randy Denzer is the Public Safety Director for the Spotternetwork and a professional Fire Battalion Chief.
 
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Great topic. If I may add... here is a list of things you should carry. Even though I'm an EMT, I don't carry a boat-load of rescue and medical equipment. In the rare situation I come across an accident or disaster, my goal is to keep someone alive and comfortable until more advanced support arrives.

1: Fire extinguisher. (At least a 5lb unit. The smaller ones are OK, but minor vehicles fires generally require more).
2: Good tactical flashlight.
3: Puncture resistant inserts for your shoes. (Not to be worn all the time, just for debris).
4: At least 5 tourniquets. (You can buy military surplus cheap on eBay. Learn how to apply).*
5: Saline eyewash.
6: 5+ pressure bandages. (The Israeli pressure bandages are great. Military surplus items).
7: 2 Emergency foil blankets.
8: CPR mask.
9: 10+ pairs surgical gloves. (Check regularly as they do eventually break down).
10: 2+ road flares.
11: 1-2 rolls of good medical tape. Great for splints or holding bandages.
12: A reflective vest.
13: Multi tool.
14: A whistle. (Can be used for signaling help).
15: A large towel. (Great for making an improvised neck support, covering injured, etc.)
16: Vehicle glass breaker.

*Tourniquets are some of the most important medical devices you can carry. Disaster scenes often involve bleeding injuries to extremities. Tourniquets are inexpensive, easy to apply (with some simple training) and are generally safe to apply. Studies have found that even prolonged application does not equate to limb loss resulting from reduced blood flow because some "profusion" or blood supply remains with properly applied tourniquets.
 
Feb 19, 2007
176
73
11
Austin, Texas
www.randydenzer.com
road flares
Tourniquets
Great List Warren! I agree that having a kit is the way to go!

I would only add caution on two items...
Road Flares = We have gotten away from road flares in progressive First Response orgs, They cause more issues that they fix. They now have the intrinsically safe and low cost flashing LEDs you can re-use. LEDs are the way to go if you can get them!

Tourniquets = I agree they are the newest and greatest first aid tool (That has made a come back from being told by medical directors to NEVER use them). But, there is training required to use them properly.

Randy
 
Good advice from everyone.

It’s helpful to take an in-person first aid class vs. an online course. A lot of areas have classes through ECSI - Emergency Care and Safety Institute.

I found out about ECSI by contacting the Boy Scouts. Their Wilderness First Aid class is a good place to start for someone who has no experience. It’s a two day course that teaches things “hands-on” such as how to perform CPR and how to apply a tourniquet.

They also teach what to have in your first aid kit, and how to use each item. It’s best to have a first aid kit for each trained person that’s in the chase vehicle.

The items we got for our kits, including tourniquet and clotting sponges, all fit nicely into a large fanny pack and were inexpensive to put together. My girlfriend and I each have a fanny pack that we keep within easy reach in the backseat in case they’re ever needed.

It’s not a bad idea to always have them in the car in case you ever witness an accident when you’re not storm chasing. There’s a lot you can do in the minutes it takes for the professional EMTs to arrive.
 
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Great List Warren! I agree that having a kit is the way to go!

I would only add caution on two items...
Road Flares = We have gotten away from road flares in progressive First Response orgs, They cause more issues that they fix. They now have the intrinsically safe and low cost flashing LEDs you can re-use. LEDs are the way to go if you can get them!

Tourniquets = I agree they are the newest and greatest first aid tool (That has made a come back from being told by medical directors to NEVER use them). But, there is training required to use them properly.

Randy
Funny, but not funny story. I had a LEO friend who was setting up flares at an accident scene when a drunk woman nearly ran him over. He hurled a flare at her car, and in a one in 100 chance, it went through the back window and landed on the rear seat. No one was hurt, but funny after ten years and he's a lieutenant now. Good note on the flares. We are still in the "open flame mode in Tucson."
 

Keith Brandt

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Mar 23, 2013
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Another new basic course is aimed at stopping massive bleeding. Randy Denzer mentioned the return to tourniquet use - there's also new pressure techniques and wound packing being taught. Highly recommended by this wilderness medicine certified doc (and former paramedic).

 
Another new basic course is aimed at stopping massive bleeding. Randy Denzer mentioned the return to tourniquet use - there's also new pressure techniques and wound packing being taught. Highly recommended by this wilderness medicine certified doc (and former paramedic).

Yes, other bleeding control methods should be used first including direct pressure. The problem with multi-casualty events is that you don't always have time to stay there and apply pressure when others may need attention. Nor do many people carry wound packing material. In Arizona, the use of tourniquets is now required in the EMT refresher. When I completed my Tactical Combat EMT certification, tourniquets were preferred because recent research from the battlefields of Afghanistan showed tourniquets could be left on for extended periods (hours) without an issue. It could be that local medical directors and first aid instructors prefer pressure packing. A lot also depends on the type of injury or amputation. I have a refresher in September, it will be interesting to see if they are changing things again.
 
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Dan Robinson

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Jan 14, 2011
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Thank you very much for the valuable insight! Do you all have suggestions or know anything of a short CERT training course (maybe a 3-day weekend course) that gets in all of the essentials that a chaser might need? I almost signed up for a local course, but it goes weekly through the end of spring and I'm sure I will have to miss several classes for chase trips.
 
Thank you very much for the valuable insight! Do you all have suggestions or know anything of a short CERT training course (maybe a 3-day weekend course) that gets in all of the essentials that a chaser might need? I almost signed up for a local course, but it goes weekly through the end of spring and I'm sure I will have to miss several classes for chase trips.
Try this link for the St. Louis area: First Aid - Boy Scouts of Greater Saint Louis

My girlfriend and I found out about ECSI Wilderness First Aid by contacting the Boy Scouts. It was a two day Saturday/Sunday course. Wilderness First Aid is appropriate because it teaches specifically about rendering aid to someone who is far from a hospital. Even if you’re rendering aid to someone in a metro area, if there are dozens of victims and five ambulances, then the situation isn’t much different than if you were helping a severely injured person on a remote mountain.

The classes listed at the website above ended in March, but the website does mention contacting the Fire Department for info on more classes. And, there’s local contact information for the Boy Scouts in St. Louis. Talking to a real person at the Boy Scout offices will likely get you pointed in the right direction to other Wilderness First Aid classes, perhaps fairly close to St. Louis.
 

Ron Cross

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Apr 24, 2019
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As a CERT instructor, I'd have to say you're not to "self deploy.' With a tornado event you don't know the areas of concern like, down power lines, possible HAZMAT, or other dangers. The idea is not to have to be rescued because you didn't see or know about hazards in an area. I operated in SAR in Moore and El Reno in 2013. At El Reno operations didn't really get under way until the next morning after the flood waters receded. As CERT you should work with Emergency Management if possible so you're informed and supported. Getting your ham license is a good idea too.
 
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Todd Lemery

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Jun 2, 2014
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I’ve mentioned before about civilians offering assistance on scene at incidences and how much it’s been appreciated. It just happened again a couple of days ago. We had a tanker semi rollover and it wasn’t pretty. We arrived short handed with the tanker leaking, the saddle tanks leaking, driver trapped and seriously injured and power lines down. A gentleman offered help and he did by doing a lot of things that we just didn’t have the manpower for. He did things like setting up cones and keeping the growing crowd away from the downed power lines. He may have even saved a life by doing that.
Afterward, I thought about this thread. Did he put himself in harms way? Yep. Was he willing to help? Yep. Did he add to a positive outcome? Yep. We could have screamed at him that it wasn’t safe and to get away, but I’m not sure it would have turned out so well without his assistance. The only injury we had was the driver, who survived.
Once more help arrived he just melted away without leaving his name. Everyone is free to offer help or not. I’m just glad that some people do.