10 Quick Extrication Tips

By Les Baker, FASNY Convention Presenter

Establishing command, sizing up the incident and formulating a plan based on good strategies is necessary to proficiently and safely mitigate an MCI. These activities remain constant regardless of the severity of the entrapment and/or patient condition.

In addition, responders must have the knowledge and skill to complete tasks at the tactical level. The ability of responders to proficiently complete tasks will have a direct impact on outcome of the patient.

My Convention presentation, “105 Tactical Tips in 105 Minutes,” provides attendees tactical-level tips to better prepare responders for the challenges of today’s extrication incidents. Each street-level tip is presented through case studies with pictures and videos to provide information that can be directly applied to your next extrication incident. Fortunately, most of these tips require minimal expenses and can be easily implemented. Here is a quick look at 10 random tips:

Tip No. 2 – Utilize the positives of social media for tips, tricks, tactics, table-top discussions, future training scenarios, etc.

Tip No. 8 – Know your role and your crew’s role in your response package and utilize predetermined tasks for the initial actions. Every incident should be approached the same way for the first one to two minutes that involve initial action and this should never change regardless of the incident. After that time period, a strong company officer should take over and coordinate the units.

Tip No. 11 – Store lift bags for easy identification of components and reliability of components. Given the number of choices responders have in sizes of bags, types of fittings, hose lengths, etc., these components should be convenient for responders to select. In addition, they should be stored in a manner that they are protected.

Tip No. 28 – The ability of patients to overwhelm resources can come in many forms and fashions. We typically think of an MCI as a bus collision or a car wreck in a crowded area, but those are easy to identify and will probably be obvious upon arrival. A mass casualty incident can present in many other ways that are not as obvious and responders should maintain a high index of suspicion with any type of transport trailer or vehicle.

Tip No. 58 – Floor jacks can be used for a variety of tactics, including citizen assist, vehicle movement and lift operations. Many responders do not always understand other lift equipment completely, but they have mastered a floor jack.


Tip No. 60 – Avoid high side glass if possible to avoid raining glass down on the patient and interior responder. No matter how hard you try, if you break glass from above it will find its way on the patient and the interior rescuer.

Tip No. 64 – Cut the roof posts in a manner that makes restricted roof removal easier. Restricted roof removal can be performed in the tightest situations as long as responders cut the post properly. Cut the bulk of material out closest to the side where the roof is being moved to and less material on the opposite to automatically create clearance.

Tip No. 68 – Hanging patients pose a significant challenge that requires a lot of space. Select tactics that create a large opening and allow for the ability of multiple responders to operate in and around the path of egress. Additional tools such as blankets, webbing and backboards can make the process even easier.

Tip No. 77 – Look, listen and feel the relief cut to ensure enough relief has been created. During certain tactics, responders are required to make relief cuts that do not completely sever vehicle parts. In these situations, it is important to make sure you achieve sufficient relief to complete the tactic.

Tip No. 84 – Utilize time notifications to trend strategy and tactics. As the incident commander/disentanglement supervisor, if things aren’t happening at the 10-minute mark or the 20-minute mark, then it may be time to switch the strategy and/or tactics.

Les Baker, a 17-year veteran of the fire service, is an engineer with the City of Charleston (South Carolina) Fire Department and volunteer in the Darlington County Fire District. He has a bachelor’s of science in fire science from Columbia Southern University. Baker is an adjunct instructor with the South Carolina Fire Academy and a member of the Darlington County Extrication Team. He speaks and instructs throughout the country. Baker is the creator of Speed Simplicity Boldness (www.speedsimplicityboldness.com), which provides relevant and high-energy training for emergency responders.