Clackamas Fire – a field manual in search.

5 mins read

Through the week, I’ll sometimes get lost in a rabbit hole. The same way I do in videos, games and hobbies, I’ll just sink right into searching for something on Google. It’s not always specific – sometimes I’m just looking for cool courses or well-reviewed books. This time, I was searching for information on search techniques. I wondered if there was a blog for that kind of thing. Instead, I found a field manual.

We are their last and only hope.

Page 1, Truck Company Manual – Rescue & Search

The Clackamas Fire District #1: Truck Company Manual – Rescue & Search manual is buried in a squarespace website. Here’s a link: Truck Company Manual.

This is unabashedly written as a toolset for developing mindset, critical search techniques and the argument for a culture that places emphasis on going inside for victims. Luckily, the folks from Clackamas Fire were kind enough to allow me to publish the link for this manual. I didn’t know if the manual was intended for the public, given that I found it through a little Google-Fu.

The response finally came through.

“There are no secrets that we are keeping.”

This is an excellent approach. Well done, Clackamas.

Straight Value

The document is written with the firefighter in mind. Besides a few Clackamas-specific details, I believe this can be of great use to anybody responding to rescue calls. There are actionable ideas as early as the fifth page. Specifically, I picked up a few things from this guide right away. There are techniques listed for grips and dragging methods. These ideas directly translate from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu – the ‘kimura’ grip and finding ‘hooks’ on the wrist.

Purely by coincidence, our station had access to a training dummy when I was reading through this. I set out one night with my bunker gear to try some of these techniques. Specifically, to run repetitions of rigging the dummy with webbing for a drag. With and without an air pack. Straight value for such an accessible training resource.

Specific beats general

One thing this field manual – and it’s written like a field manual, more on that later – it has specific notes. From equipment considerations to defining search techniques. There are aggressive ideas for VES and a handful of general ‘tips’ toward the end of the document. For instance, room-specific ideas touch on sifting clothes piles and sweeping bath tubs while other sections break down body positioning for efficient movement. Similarly, there is information regarding the places our citizens are most likely to inhabit given the time of day or fire location. Elements of building construction for estimating room location list elements like garage location or roof pitch.

It’s a free field manual. Just go download it!

This document is written like a field manual. It’s rife with information you can put into action.

It’s not lofty or bloated. The direct-to-action ideas in this document are worthy of your time. Worthy of my sitting down to write this out on a Sunday night. Beyond that – this 46 page project is available for free. Therefore, there’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t dump this into a folder on your phone and come back to it over a couple weeks.

I showed this to my captain who gave me something great to think about; “Techniques are great but not worth much if everybody isn’t on the same page.” This alone is something to think deeply about – culture, training, progress and more.

Beyond buy in, this resource is topped up on valuable information that is predicated on good data. Above all, I’d like to thank Clackamas Fire for putting this out there. Go grab a copy and take notes.

Bill Dungey is a volunteer firefighter in Ontario, Canada. He is focused on fitness, mindset development and finding training opportunities to help the fire service make things better.

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