Heavy rescue

Modern Firefighting - Heavy Rescue and RTC

By Gareth Lloyd, Station Manager and UKRO Education Lead for Extrication

Under the 2004 Fire and Rescue Services Act, Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) has the legal duty to respond to Road Traffic Collisions and other emergencies as a core requirement.

Subsequently, all AF&RS wholetime and on-call crews are equipped to deal with the majority of light vehicle road traffic collisions (RTC) and all appliances carry stabilisation equipment, trauma packs, hydraulic rescue equipment and battery/hand tools to meet this challenge.

To help ensure our people are prepared technically, operational recruits undertake RTC and Heavy Rescue (HR) training part of their development.

It is also requirement of all AF&RS personnel to complete multiple RTC and Heavy Rescue training elements to stay competent depending on their RTC/ HR requirement.

Annual crew based training courses at Severn Park also contain a RTC/HR reference or elements within them, all designed to refresh operational crews with the latest best practice.

The Service ensures best practice is passed on to its staff in a number of ways:

  1. All AF&RS Learning and Development Instructors are required to undertake a two-weekRTC Course at the Fire Service College plus the two-week AF&RS Heavy Rescue Instructor Course.
  2. AF&RS maintains a continual link with the United Kingdom Rescue Organisation via the Avon Extrication Team and L+D Instructors to ensure the latest education in vehicle extrication, trauma and Heavy Rescue is made available to our operational staff. This is fed into all relevant L+D courses, SD Memo’s, SOP’s, equipment purchasing working groups and online learning tools.
  3. L+D staff hosting a tri-service RTC working group with colleagues from Roads Policing, SWAST, HART and Air Ambulance Critical Care teams to pass on shared updates and best practice.
  4. National Operational guidance authors contained within AF&RS.

Along with this, AF&RS has a Heavy Rescue Tender based at Avonmouth fire station. This is a purpose built Heavy Rescue vehicle designed to respond to serious road traffic collisions and Heavy Rescue incidents and includes new equipment to meet these new challenges.

This includes:

  • Additional HR lifting/ stabilisation options including rim lifting kits, lifting shores and chain lifting options.
  • A full hydraulic rescue equipment purchase from Holmatro, giving enhanced options against modern vehicle construction such as High Strength Low Alloy steels and Boron steels plus silent running/ indoor options.
  • Enhanced range of equipment to tackle new materials challenges, such as battery, 120v and air powered disc cutters, saws and NVT blades.
  • Low level PSV jacks, cylinder and toe jacks
  • Bariatric rescue including lifting cradles for use with Paratech bi-pods or HRT Hiab crane
  • Sky hooking/ high anchor/ crane rescue options for Rope Rescue scenarios
  • Multiple stretcher options

In the last few years, AF&RS has responded to some nationally significant Heavy Rescue Incidents, such as the tragic M32 roll over, Lansdown Lane, and the M5 multiple vehicle/ casualty major incident at Taunton after being requested via Devon and Somerset Fire& Rescue Service.

Outside of AF&RS, with my work nationally for the United Kingdom Rescue Organisation and NFCC/ NOG, I’ve been lucky enough to assist a number of Fire and Rescue Services with their RTC and Heavy Rescue response.

This has given me an insight into AF&RS’ provision in terms of our appliances, equipment and training for RTC and Heavy Rescue incidents with AF&RS seen as a leading Fire and Rescue Service.

For further information on the latest vehicle technology, techniques and equipment please visit https://www.ukro.org/.