Search and Rescue

March Litter Training Debrief

main text written by Aaron Hall

Instructors: Mickey Jojola and Aaron Hall

At 9:00 am on March 10th we met at the Embudo trailhead on the East end of Indian School for a Litter training. Mickey and I decided that we would conduct this training with two things in mind. First, do a long litter haul. We wanted to do a long litter haul because we felt that this is the most important part of litter handling to train on because of the amount of teamwork required to haul a litter well. We wanted everyone on the training to get a chance to work each position on the litter and we wanted the haul to be long enough to give everyone some real litter hauling experience. Second, we wanted to practice tying in some scenario injuries because we rarely tie-in and haul perfectly healthy subjects. This seemed to be a way to think about alternative ways to tie in a subject and to emphasize patient care during the tie-in and haul.

The training began with a demonstration of our standard tie-in procedure. You can find it on the web. Thanks to everyone who helped tie in James and thanks James for being the subject. We then did our standard test to see if the tie-in met Cibola standards. James looks nice and comfortable!

Figure 1:James in the litter

Next we split up into two groups and tied-in two scenario injuries, a broken ankle, and a broken shoulder. Each team had to beam the "injured" subject into the litter. The ankle team beamed the subject in using the usual technique and modified the standard tie in by only securing the uninjured ankle. The injured ankle was padded in order to better secure it in the litter. The standard method was used to tie in the shoulder, and the subject was zippered up in the usual manner. Thanks Mike for being the subject. There was some discussion about whether or not the subjects boot should be removed in this situation. Things considered were weather conditions, extent of injury, likelihood of swelling, and the likelihood that taking the boot off would make things worse. All agreed that taking the boot off is a call that has to be made for each situation.

The shoulder team decided to log roll the subject onto a blanket and use the blanket to move the subject into the litter. They then tied the subject in by putting a diaper harness on the subject and securing the carabiner of the diaper harness to each corner of the litter. This avoided the possibility of putting any pressure on either of the subject's shoulders. They then completed the tie in with the usual zipper, making sure to leave the injured arm free so that circulation could be checked during the haul. Thanks Susan for being the subject. We all felt that the diaper harness was a good way to deal with a shoulder injury. Securing it to each corner of the litter was a good way to prevent the subject from moving during the haul.

Next we did the haul. We put a willing volunteer in the litter and hauled from the Embudo parking lot at the top of Indian School to the open space parking lot at the top of Menaul approximately 0.8 miles. The haul began with some starts and stops to tighten and readjust the wheel. (Make sure its tight, and on center.) Then Mickey stopped the team to point out what we don't want to do. Look at how that litter is leaning, we really have to work against each other if we do this.

Figure 2: Leaning litter

After a few pointers we kept going and learned to ask the haul line team to slow down. Watch out and don't get drug through those cactus- ouch! It's easy for everyone to get excited and try to move the litter as fast a possible. That creates a dangerous situation for everyone especially the people on the litter who are often paying more attention to it than the to the trail ahead. The best way to haul is slow and deliberately, especially in rough terrain. We negotiated some obstacles during the haul, the first one was a steep downhill. Doesn't this look great!

Figure 3: Downhill

Everyone did a really good job controlling the litter on this downhill. Good job on the breakline. Remember if you're on the haul line and you come to a downhill or to an obstacle, it's important to call out and tell the people behind you what's coming. This helps the litter and the break line be ready when they get there. After the downhill, we hauled for a while over some relatively smooth sloping terrain. After a few minutes everyone seemed to be working together smoothly. People rotated in and out of the litter and the haul lines were well coordinated. Good job keeping the litter level and providing a nice comfortable ride for our subject. Isn't this the litter you'd want to be in?

Figure 4: Litter on the trail

The next obstacle was a pass-through. Mickey and I picked a couple of rocks that were a little tricky to negotiate. Everyone did a great job and really worked together as a team. For the people on the haul line, remember to watch for potential pass-throughs and stop and send some people back to take the litter on the other side of the pass through. Look at this great teamwork!

Figure 5: Pass through

The next challenge in store for our litter team was to pick their own trail to the Menaul parking lot, which was approximately a quarter mile away. We decided to throw this in because it's rare that the route for the litter will be all laid out and marked with trail tape on an actual mission. The team will have to make decisions about where to take the litter. This job will probably fall to the people on the haul line, and we felt it was a good thing to practice and to be thinking about. The people on the haul line did a great job. One person was sent ahead to scout the trail and everyone else followed with the litter. The last obstacle was going over the guard rail at the Menaul parking lot. Great job on the high lift-over!

Figure 6: Lift over

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