Into the Risk…

You want me to go where and do what?!

The day normally starts with the alarm going off at some stupid hour and looking out the window to figure out whether the weather is doing what the forecast said it would. As with most things in life, being a confined space rescue tech is all about the preparation.

Communication is key on site. A site briefing is conducted at the start of the shift, with all relevant personnel being present. Details of the planned work, taskings and duties are disseminated. Work methods are explained and potential snags discussed. On longer term projects, the risk can and does change as the project advances. There will be discussions as to specific risks expected and how we as a rescue team can mitigate them.

Toolbox talks take place, if required after the briefing. Companies are becoming more proactive in keeping their contractors current with relevant Health, Safety and wellbeing information. It could be anything from, learning from ‘near misses’ to the effects inhaling cement dust, to practical demonstrations of 1st aid, CPR and rescue demonstrations, given by the rescue team.

Each site will have its specific rescue plan laid down in the RAMS. Equipment is checked and setup accordingly. Gas monitors are bump checked, RPE issued and the method of communication established and tested.

On certain sites, the rescue team will carry out background gas level checks on behalf of the client. We need to ensure a safe working environment for ourselves and contractors before the workforce enter.

It can take time to build up working relationships with contractors, but to my mind it is the single most important thing a rescue tech can do to increase safety in the risk. There may be four or five different companies working on the same project. If we can all work together as a single team, people will communicate and you’ll be kept informed of progress or problems.

On good days, gas levels remain low, the rescue team implement a safe system for rescue should it be required and monitor the wellbeing of those in the risk.

On bad days, gas levels fluctuate wildly, contractors deviate from agreed working practices, planned work is plagued with snags, you’ll get hot, cold, dirty, smelly or wet, but that said, be it a good day or a bad day, come the end of that shift, everyone gets to go home safe… because you’ve done your job well.

Written by a Rescue 2 Technician.

Confined Space Rescue Team Member