Employers have a responsibility to ensure that their workers can be promptly rescued at any time, from any workspace. To meet this demand, knowing how to write a rescue plan will go a long way.
In this context, what does the term RESCUE really mean?
Think of rescue here as the ability to access and recover an injured or ill worker who cannot self extricate from a low, medium, or high risk environment. Rescue may or may not include the provision of first aid. Rescuers must be trained in how to safety locate, access, stabilize and transport workers from these types of environments.
Examples of when rescue would be required include situations where a worker:
- fell off an elevated work platform and is suspended from her fall protection equipment
- is injured or ill within a confined space
- is accidentally washed away by moving water or is entrapped in a river
- has fallen through weak ice and cannot get back to shore
After you’ve identified situations that warrant rescue, it’s time to decide how a rescue will actually be carried out.
First, Ask: How Will The Rescue Happen?
Employers can select one of three different strategies when determining how rescue will be provided to their employees.
- Utilize existing Municipal, Provincial or Federal Rescue Teams
It is often surprising for people to hear that calling 911 is generally not an adequate rescue plan. If you are relying on a Fire Service or SAR team for your rescue, have you ensured they have the training to provide the type of rescue required? What happens if the department is already engaged in an existing emergency when you need them?
Bottom line: If you are going to rely on existing emergency services to provide rescue from your workplace, obtain a written agreement (often referred to as a mutual aid agreement) to outline the relationship.
2. Bring in a third party organization to provide “Standby Rescue Services” for the duration of time workers are exposed to hazards.
This option is generally the easiest, and most effective. Having a rescue team with specialized training on site, ready to respond, is hard to beat. However, this option may be expensive and might not be practical for longer durations and unscheduled work.
Bottom line: Standby rescue services are best when the work is scheduled, and not ongoing. Learn more about when you should pick standby rescue for your site.
3. Provide rescue internally by getting personnel trained and certified in rescue techniques.
This option is generally best for lower risk and simple work spaces where a high level of expertise and competency is not required. Keeping your personnel effectively prepared to implement your rescue plan will require ongoing training maintence and recertification.
Bottom line: For simple rescues in a routine setting, internally trained personnel are an efficient choice.
Next, Decide: Who Will Write The Rescue Plan?
When it comes to writing your rescue plan, you basically have two options – you can hire a qualified individual or agency to develop it for you, or you can develop your own.
Sometimes the hazards associated with a given workspace will dictate which option makes most sense. For simple, low risk workspaces, the rescue plan may also be simple. In other situations, specialized training and experience may be required to ensure a realistic and effective plan is in place.
Regardless of who is developing your rescue plan, the basic components of the rescue plan should include:
- An assessment of Hazards in the workspace
- How many workers may require rescue at a given time?
- Who is providing rescue?
- How many rescuers are required?
- How will the rescue team be contacted?
- Where will the rescue team be staged?
- What is a reasonable response time?
- What level of training do the rescuers require?
- What equipment is required to affect the rescue?
- What PPE is required for the rescuers?
- What type of access exists for higher medical care?
- Provision of Transportation to higher medical care?
- A plan outlining specific rescue tactics. starting with the lowest risk option that provides the greatest chance of success
- A plan for transfer of care
- A debriefing process
Make Your Rescue Plan Work For You
The creation of a functional rescue plan for your workers isn’t “rocket surgery”, but it may require some outside input to help you strike the balance between checking the boxes and actual functionality.
At Raven, we’re about bringing out your safety and rescue savvy. We’re here to help you simplify the journey between the check-box paperwork, and going home after a good day of work.
Invite us to take a look at your existing safety program and whatever rescue plans it does (or doesn’t) include.
We’ve done this before, and we can make your rescue plan work for you.