Burn injury on the Rough Fire

(Originally published at 7:01 MDT, September 7, 2015)

A firefighter was burned today on the Rough Fire. Below is a news release from the incident management team:

At approximately 8:00 [on September 7, 2015], a firefighter was injured while working in the Converse Basin area of the Rough Fire. The firefighter was part of a hotshot crew working the night shift tasked with monitoring the fire line along Hoist Ridge, looking for spot fires that may have occurred outside the containment line.

Given the extremely steep, rugged terrain, a Rapid Extraction Module (REM) was dispatched to remove the firefighter from the scene to a road. The firefighter was delivered to an ambulance and transported to a nearby helispot. A helicopter then transported the patient to the hospital for treatment. The firefighter was conscious and alert at the time of the extraction.

The firefighter is now in the hospital, receiving treatment, in stable condition and good spirits. The firefighter’s family has been notified and is en route. The Forest Service is providing an employee advocate who is on scene to work with the firefighter’s family and medical staff to facilitate communication with all involved parties and deal with any needs of the family.

The Rough Fire, which started on July 31 east of Fresno, California, has burned over 95,000 acres.

Does anyone have details of what comprises a “Rapid Extraction Module” on a wildland fire?

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(UPDATE September 8, 2015)

Our readers can provide a wealth of information.

  1.  Holly sent us a copy of the ICS Position Manual for the Rapid Extraction Module Support (REMS), ICS- 223-12.
  2. Kari Greer, in the comments, provided a link to some photos she took during a Rapid Extraction Module proficiency practice on the Happy Camp Complex last summer on the Klamath National Forest in California. That Module is from Sacramento Metro FD.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Barbara. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Three firefighters injured by falling tree in central California

Three firefighters were injured, one very seriously, by a falling tree July 3 in central California near Three Rivers, a town in the foothills of the Sierras. Damien Pereira, 25, underwent surgery Saturday to repair broken vertebrae, and more surgeries are planned to address his broken ribs and bruised internal organs.

Below is a news release issued July 4 by CAL FIRE.

three injured firefightes

Firefighter injured in bear attack

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Juneau Lake map

A firefighter working on the Juneau Lake Fire in the Chugach National Forest in Alaska sustained minor injuries in a bear encounter on June 22. The firefighter was transported by a life med helicopter from the remote Juneau Lake site (map) to a hospital in Anchorage, about 42 miles away by air. It would have been much longer if ground transportation had been used.

The firefighter walked from the encounter site to the helicopter and is undergoing standard treatment for animal bites.

Notification of any injury on a wildfire engages emergency response protocols.  The Oregon Interagency Incident Management Team 4 implemented its “incident within an incident” practices to deliver timely aid to the firefighter.

Below is a portion of a report on the Juneau Lake Fire from InciWeb:

An incident management team from Oregon assumed command of the Stetson Creek and Juneau Lake fires on June 19, 2015. The Oregon Interagency Incident Management Team 4 (ORIIMT4), Brian Goff, incident commander, and a team of nine are stationed in Cooper Landing.

Firefighters assisting with suppression efforts include the Alaska Midnight Sun Hotshots and three Type 2 crews from National Forests in Montana: the Lolo, Bitterroot, and Beaverhead/Deer Lodge.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Chris.

Firefighter checking out dead bear was injured by power line

A firefighter working on a fire on the George Washington & Jefferson National Forests in Bath County, Virginia on May 15 walked over to look at a dead bear and was injured by by a low-hanging power line.

From the “24-hour Report”:

Job Corps Hand Crew was performing mop-up operations within one chain of the fire perimeter. Crew was aware of a dead bear three chains away along the power line and walked over to observe the bear. One of the crew members walked between the bear’s location and the low hanging power line and received electrical burns. The crew member was triaged on site by an EMT firefighter. The crew member was transferred by ambulance to a local hospital and then air lifted to a regional burn unit. Notifications were made to Forest Supervisor, SACC/F&AM, Regional Forester and the Washington Office.

And, an update from the “72-hour Report”

Since the incident, the low hanging power line has been repaired by the power company. The injured firefighter is being treated at a Regional Burn Center located in Richmond, Virginia. The firefighter has been improving since the incident occurred. The injured firefighter will be in the hospital from one to three weeks, depending on recovery.

Firefighter injured in Iowa wildfire

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Spring Run fire
Fire near Spring Run in Iowa. Photo by Milford Fire and Rescue.

A firefighter was seriously injured while fighting a wildfire in northern Iowa on Wednesday.

Below are excerpts from Explore Okoboji:

It took firefighters from seven area fire departments as well as a firefighting unit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service several hours to extinguish a massive fire late Wednesday afternoon and evening in the Spring Run complex east of Arnolds Park. Spirit Lake Fire Chief Pat Daly tells KUOO news his department was the first to arrive on the scene.

Daly says the blaze became so large and wind driven that it actually jumped a road.

One firefighter was seriously injured battling the blaze. He’s been identified as Jim Nygaard of the Superior Fire Department. Nygaard was transported by ambulance to Lakes Regional Healthcare and was transferred by air to a burn unit at a Twin Cities hospital. Information on his condition and extent of injuries wasn’t immediately available. KUOO news has learned a tractor Nygaard was using to help put out the blaze caught on fire.

Spring Run fire
Spring Run Fire. Photo by Dickinson County Sheriff’s Office.

Study: Risk factors for injury among federal wildland firefighters

A student working on her PhD at the University of Iowa wrote her dissertation in 2010 after studying the records of injuries to wildland firefighters. Carla Lea Britton titled her paper “Risk factors for injury among federal wildland firefighters“. We will not attempt to summarize the entire document, but below are some quotes that we thought were interesting in the Conclusions section:

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P. 67: The wildland fire community should expand its focus beyond the investigation of fatalities and embrace new methodologies to evaluate and mitigate the impact of non-fatal occupational injuries in wildland fire.

P. 70: Comprehensive surveillance: The resources currently available to estimate and evaluate the burden of injury in firefighters are found in a diversity of situations and are not, in many cases, suitable for linking. Fire managers should work toward developing a new comprehensive occupational injury surveillance system to capture fire-related injuries, illness and fatalities across the spectrum of wild- and prescribed fires, training activities and types of employment.

P. 70-71: Partnerships: Guidance on the safety and health of wildland firefighters is provided by the NWCG’s Safety and Health Working Team (SHWT). The SHWT’s mission is to improve health and safety through workforce development, leadership and the development of standards using data collection and analysis to validate and prioritize safety issues. While the mission is commendable, the SHWT lacks both the resources and expertise to fully realize its goal. The SHWT is comprised of representatives from the NWCG member agencies. Most of the committee members are the national-level fire safety managers for the agencies they represent. While all have extensive backgrounds in fire suppression, few, if any, have any formal training in occupational health and safety. The SHWT should actively pursue partnerships with either the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health or with university-based researchers to provide additional expertise, particularly in the area of injury epidemiology and prevention, topics on which there have been little research emphasis in the past.

P. 71-72: This project has shown that, even with sub-optimal data collected for other purposes, systematic evaluation of existing data can provide useful hints for prevention and point to areas where further inquiry is likely to be fertile. To move forward, the wildland fire community needs to commit to using existing data to the best advantage possible and to developing new surveillance methods to provide comprehensive information about all wildland firefighter injuries and their circumstances.

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Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Kevin.