Friday, October 17, 2008

Responder rehabilitation during incidents-new NFPA 1584 standards

Hi folks!
Rest and rehabilitation during emergency response operations is vital to a first responders' health and well being. Even in the context of our CERT classes and drills; one can easily understand that a
responder who's tired and worn out is simply not as effective as one that is rested, hydrated and alert.
Below is an interesting article and powerpoint presentation regarding new federal NFPA standards for first responder rehabilitation. Check it out, you may find the information quite useful.
your volunteer PIO

The Emergency Management and Response—Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EMR-ISAC) reviewed the new National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standard for firefighter rehabilitation. It outlines the responsibilities for responders at fires (and other incidents) by specifying the standards for rehabilitation (also referred to as “rehab”) to preserve continuity of operations.

According to the NFPA, rehab should occur whenever on-scene activities pose the risk of emergency personnel exceeding a safe level of physical or mental endurance. The types of incidents will vary from structural and wildland fires, hazmat incidents, multiple casualty incidents, and any prolonged operation during bad weather. The standard specifies that fire and emergency medical services are expected to take the lead in sharing the rehab concept with law enforcement and other emergency departments and agencies that take part at the scene.

The new standard defines eight key objectives for rehab. These include relief from environmental conditions, rest and recovery, and active or passive cooling or warming as needed. They also include rehydration, calorie and electrolyte replacement, medical monitoring, member accountability, and release for return to duty. Hot conditions will require shelter from the sun, sunscreen, hydration, and prevention of burns from contacting hot asphalt. Cold weather priorities may include shelter from wind and snow, frostbite prevention, increased caloric intake, and methods for thawing gear.

The area devoted to rehab may be as simple as a single rescue or ambulance unit. It also may be as complex as a tent equipped with generators and communications equipment. Access to fresh water is essential, although many Emergency Services Sector agencies prefer sports drinks that provide electrolyte replacement. Basic needs such as portable toilets should be considered early.

NFPA 1584 (Recommended Practice on the Rehabilitation of Members Operating at Incident Scene Operations and Training Exercises) can be seen at: