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The protective clothing and equipment needs for emergency responders engaged in urban search and rescue activities were investigated. These activities involve areas of emergency rescue not undertaken as part of other traditionally defined response efforts such as fire fighting, hazardous materials response, and emergency medical services, and include, building collapses, trench cave-ins, flooding, and contaminated water diving. These incidents pose a variety of physical hazards, but also include fire contact, chemical exposure, prolonged exposure to adverse weather, contact with biological contaminants, and drowning. An Emergency Responder User Requirements Committee (ERURC) was formed to assist in the assessment of urban search and rescue protective clothing/equipment needs. The ERURC included representatives of the Fire Service and other groups experienced in urban search and rescue missions. Input from the ERURC, together with information obtained in industry surveys, was used to clearly define urban search and rescue missions, identify the needs of each mission, determine clothing and equipment to meet those needs, and propose generic performance requirements for clothing and equipment items. From these efforts, urban search and rescue protective ensembles were defined for three areas: (1) technical rescue, (2) swift water rescue, and (3) contaminated water diving. Similar protection needs and ensemble clothing/equipment needs were grouped. Specific design and performance requirements were defined for the clothing and equipment items in each ensemble.
Urban search and rescue, technical rescue, swiftwater rescue, contaminated water diving, personal protective equipment, protective clothing standards, performance requirements, disaster, fire service
President, International Personnel Protection, Inc., Austin, TX
TRI/Environmental Inc., Austin, TX
Program Manager, Protective Clothing and Equipment, U.S. Fire Administration, Emmitsburg, MD