To many, the very image of a rescuer is the firefighter. For generations, firefighters have gained respect and admiration for their professional skills and bravery when protecting society and saving citizen lives, whether at single incidents or significant disasters. It’s natural to believe that that role for the rescuer will remain the same also in the future, but times change fast and radically, and the conditions for the rescuer may also change…
A very good idea – to all of us
The idea of emergency operations has always been to – at the shortest possible time – provide properly skilled staff with proper equipment to prevent or to limit/eliminate the consequences of incidents.
Over the years both skills and equipment have developed and today’s rescuers, irrespective of their specialisation, are highly professionals trained for complex operations using advanced technology in their work. It is natural to believe the future will develop similarly with continuously better-trained rescuers using ever-improving equipment to fight fires and rescue people in emergencies. And, it is natural to believe that also the causes for rescue operations will remain similar. However, there could be a reason to consider if the fundamental conditions for rescue operations may change – and their possible impact on rescue driving. Let us have a look at some areas that may cause the rescue driver to face new challenges.
A vehicle will always be necessary to transport rescuers and equipment to the incident scene. Rescue vehicles of today use effective technology for assisting the driver to find the shortest or the fastest way possible to the incident scene. So, what next to be improved? Well, the development of autonomous vehicles may impact the rescue driver’s work most significantly. A heavy fire truck during an emergency call will require a human driver for the foreseeable future, but there are other vehicles. Autonomous ambulances and police vehicles may well be used for routine transportations, surveillance or the likes. But, also remotely controlled special vehicles develop at a fast pace, turning the rescue driver into an operator controlling the vehicle by use of computers, displays and joysticks.
How will new vehicle technology change the role of the rescue driver?
Communication and security
Today’s efficient communication systems not only support operating rescue units, but some can also be used by the public for good and evil. The reach of, e.g. social media makes it possible for anyone to notify on actions, incidents, and accidents instantly. This is a good thing if it is used to inform and warn others for potential danger but, on the other hand, this efficient communication can also be used to quickly gather crowds of evil intentions in case of, e.g. riots or political manifestations. The unpredictable appearance of crowds is extending the response time for the rescue driver, not to mention if the crowd as such is hostile.
Unfortunately, intentional damage aimed at society is becoming more common. In some cities, rescue staff is intentionally hindered. Even worse, firefighters and ambulances are increasingly attacked by mobs and need police protection to do their work. Also, terror attacks may call for massive rescue operations of a kind that was unknown just a few decades ago.
How will changes in society affect the working conditions for the rescue driver?
Natural incidents and disasters
In a world of urbanisation, cities grow fast both by population and by area. Densely populated cities with heavy traffic is a traditional challenge for the rescue driver. By contrast, one can consider uncongested rural areas and the backcountry and also here incidents do occur. Regardless of the underlying cause for it, more extreme weather (hot/dry vs cold/wet) will increasingly cause incidents like bushfires, floods, landslides etc., most of which will require rescue operations – in surroundings where access can be very difficult.
Will natural incidents put new demands on vehicle drivability?
What will remain unchanged?
Irrespective of changes in nature, society or technology rescue operation efficiency will always be about arriving at the incident scene as soon as possible, save lives and property, and then limit the damage consequences as much as possible. The challenges for the rescue driver may vary considerably due to circumstance. Still, regardless of the cause for an incident or the reason for a possible delay, it is vital to keep response time as short as ever possible. One way to do that is to ensure traction, avoiding delays due to slippery conditions.
Feel free to download our document How to shorten your response time.