We’ve all seen it, our favourite television action or drama show. Someone gets injured or is rendered unconscious and our valiant hero somehow gets the victim over their shoulder and carries them to safety. Usually, just in the nick of time before tragedy ensues from an explosion or collapse of the building or bridge or wherever our movie heroes find themselves depicted.
Great fun and great entertainment. However, there’s a few things to be said for the so-called ‘fireman’s carry’. (The art of balancing an injured person across your shoulders or over your shoulder)
First up, even fire-fighters don’t use this technique nowadays. Years of study into the operational efficiency and capabilities of fire-fighters under extreme circumstances has ruled out the fireman’s lift as a viable method of retrieving an injured or unconscious victim from a structure fire.
A few of the contributing factors that have stopped this practice are that fire-fighters are operating whilst wearing substantial amounts of protective equipment including breathing apparatus. All of which weighs around an extra 20-30 kilos and also restricts free movement to some degree. So their ability to manoeuvre and lift a limp body from the floor and hoist it onto their shoulders is a feat few can achieve. Another factor that must be considered is the strength of the floor or floorboards that now support the weight of two people plus protective equipment and clothing. The chance of the fire-affected flooring giving way is a real possibility. Lastly, the ability to navigate in thick smoke while walking on damaged or water sodden flooring while devoting one hand to ensuring the victim remains in place over their shoulder is asking too much of even the fittest, strongest of people and realistically, an accident waiting to happen.
This is worth noting because if you have ever considered that you could carry someone to safety in the event of a workplace emergency, you would be well advised to think again. It is possible but highly unlikely, especially if your victim is unconscious. Generally, without prior training and a good deal of strength and fitness, the average person would only be able to carry the ambulant victim who could stand and assist the carrier to get the victim into place over the shoulder.
So how do fire-fighters rescue victims nowadays? They work in pairs and use a range of different carries or drags depending upon the circumstances. If you should ever find yourself in an emergency situation where an injured or unconscious victim requires moving to a safer location because their current location exposes them to immediate harm or life threatening danger, drag them by their arms or clothing if possible. Otherwise, rescues per se, are the domain of the Emergency Services who have the skills, equipment and practice to do it safely and effectively.