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Lessons from a Firefighter: How a Light Rescue Cribbing Set Can Save Lives in Earthquakes

Posted by Wayne Bennett on

Over 25 years, I've served as a Fire Captain, battling blazes, responding to emergencies, and learning the ins and outs of disaster response. Today, I've retired from active duty, but my mission continues. I'm focused on teaching people what to do in an emergency because I believe that preparedness can save lives. As part of my endeavor, I offer free life-saving training online and also free CPR online training.

In this blog post, I want to shed light on a lifesaver that's often under the radar - the Light Rescue Cribbing Set. This invaluable tool comes to the rescue during disasters like earthquakes, particularly when victims are trapped under heavy non-structural items like filing cabinets, pianos, and vending machines.

A Life-Saving Tool: The Light Rescue Cribbing Set

In the course of my firefighting career, I've seen many disasters - big and small. An earthquake, however, is a different beast altogether. Amidst the chaos and rubble, the real challenge often comes from heavy, non-structural items that trap victims - things like filing cabinets, pianos, vending machines. Here's where a Light Rescue Cribbing Set becomes an unsung hero.

At its core, this kit consists of a set of wooden blocks - a 4-foot lever, a fulcrum, twenty-eight 12-inch 2x4s, and four 12-inch wedges. They might look as simple as the wooden blocks you have in your third-grade classroom, but in a rescue operation, they are a lifeline.

The Magic of Cribbing: Stabilizing, Lifting, and Saving Lives

Picture this: After an earthquake, a heavy filing cabinet has toppled over, pinning down someone. The challenge is to lift this cabinet without causing it to collapse further or harm the victim. This is where cribbing comes into play.

The wooden blocks, or cribbing, are stacked in a way that they support the cabinet from the corners, providing stability. The lever and fulcrum are then used to lift the object from the middle, with the cribbing blocks ensuring that the cabinet doesn't shift or topple during the process.

The technique is straightforward - for every inch we lift, we slide in another layer of cribbing. This provides additional support and raises the overall height at which the object is stable. It's a slow process, but in rescue operations, safety always trumps speed.

Ensuring Safety During the Rescue Operation

In every operation I've been a part of, the first priority is always safety - for the victims and the rescuers. While lifting heavy objects, cribbing plays a critical role in safety. Not only does it support the weight of the object, but it also prevents any sudden movement in case the lifting device fails.

In essence, using cribbing blocks to rescue trapped victims is like building a tower with blocks in your classroom. It requires a solid base, careful placement of each block, and, most importantly, teamwork.

Rescue Cribbing Video

The use of cribbing in disaster rescue isn't just a technique; it's an art learned through practice and experience. And just like art, it's best learned hands-on. This is why I strongly recommend training programs like the "Disaster Survival Skills" workshops for anyone involved in rescue operations.

Looking back at my career as a Fire Captain, I've seen how the proper use of tools like the Light Rescue Cribbing Set has made the difference between life and death. As I share this knowledge with you, it is my sincere hope that it can help save more lives in the face of disasters.

Remember, in the face of disaster, we need not feel helpless. With the right tools, knowledge, and teamwork, we can make a difference. Stay safe


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