An industrial confined space rescue team has a distinct advantage over a public services one, such as a fire department. They have the ability to know when and where an entry is going to occur as well as the tasks to be completed within it. To ensure they can utilize this information, the rescue resources should be involved in the pre-entry preparation process.
An essential part of this preparation is the toolbox/tailboard talk. During confined space entries the rescue plan is often not considered until it is required, which is often too late. Either those that are part of the entry work do not discuss their assigned rescue duties or the designated rescue team is seated on the sidelines waiting to be called into action. There is critical information that can be shared to contribute to a successful response.
There are 3 key items, in regards to rescue, that should be included in your pre-entry talk.
What are the assigned rescue roles and responsibilities?
How will the rescuebe carried out?
Any limitations/restrictions to the work process?
Rescue Roles and Responsibilities – For each entry it is necessary to have the roles of responsible supervisor, standby person and entrant assigned. It is equally important to identify who has been assigned a rescue role and therefore the related specific responsibilities. To ensure a speedy response time and an effective rescue, personnel should know who to contact and how to contact rescue as well as who is doing what so that the required activities can be effectively coordinated.
How the rescue will be carried out? – A description of how the rescue will be completed is essential for all involved personnel. The reason is twofold: for the benefit of the entrant and for the success of the pre-determine rescue plan. First, by understanding the rescue plan and knowing that it is viable, the anxiety that may exist with the entrant, can be eliminated or at least reduced. This allows the entrant to better focus on their task. Second, sometimes the rescuers are unfamiliar with the space and the planned method of rescue may not be appropriate. The entrant can provide feedback to the rescue team regarding the plan thereby helping to ensure an effective rescue based on the configuration of the space, the equipment required and the task to be completed.
Limitations/restrictions to the work process – A rescue effort requires appropriate resources. This can range from the amount of personnel, the available equipment to the configuration of the space. It is important that the entrant inform the rescue team if they are restricted in anyway during their entry. A successful rescue may depend on it. For example, if the amount of trained rescue personnel available is only 2, a standby person and an entry rescuer, the type of incidents they can respond to is limited. Another example would be if the access is only 18” in diameter. This may limit the type of equipment that can be employed and therefore, again, the type of incident that can effectively be responded to. In both of these cases the available resources do not allow for proper spinal injury management. As such in these examples it would be prudent to limit the entrant to work that does not involve a fall hazard unless some sort of fall protection is used. By discussing any limitations/restrictions that are dictated by the available resources, a rescue team can ensure they are prepared for the possible scenarios and injuries they may face.
Understanding the specifics of a confined space entry and the associated hazards of the space as well as the tasks is an advantage to any rescue response team. Participating in the pre-entry toolbox/tailboard talk will allow them to further do this and ensure a successful rescue. In addition, the entrant will feel confident in the planned method of rescue and work in a way as not to complicate any aspect of it.
Make sure that rescue personnel take an active role in the pre-entry toolbox/tailboard talk.