Ray points out that "while it is unlikely that we would truly be "first responder, we could be called upon to provide early search and rescue planning information at an incident, and it is vital that we understand all of the issues surrounding us, in the mindset of a fireman."Federal and State OSHA regulations specify confined-space work practices. These may include use of atmosphere monitoring devices, only working in pairs with a 'buddy,' never going into the confined location if the first responder appears to have become unconscious, and wearing a harness with rope when entering tight spaces among fallen debris, and, of course, always wear a nonconductive hard hat.
"Some excellent First Responder Awareness recommendations come from the Basic Online Disaster Emergency Response project Web site (B.O.L.D.E.R.), which can be found at: www.chemicalspill.org.
"Some essential attitudes for responders 'first on the scene':
The article also points out that "prior to entering the confined space area, stop and assess conditions. Is your presence detrimental to the search and rescue operation? Is the space in the room only large enough for the victims, rescuers, and their equipment? Are there hazardous conditions present? If in doubt, ask the Fire Department before entering. If the firemen are wearing breathing apparatus, then that should serve as a hint that, without similar equipment, you don't belong there. Are there risks such as a natural gas leak, live wires, or running water? Running water may only be an annoyance, but it can also produce a lethal path for electricity, or a warning of possible roof collapse."
Cary Mangum, W6WWW