Over the last ten years, the need to better monitor and maintain firefighter health on the fireground has increased in importance. This has occurred as CFA has developed a greater understanding of the health risks of poor hydration and carbon monoxide as a fire service. To help address this, the concept of Firefighter Rehabilitation and Health Monitoring was born, with Mernda taking a lead role in rolling out the service to the CFA and MFB.
What is Rehab and Health Monitoring?
Firefighter Rehab is focused on maintaining appropriate hydration levels as we tend to work in hot environments wearing PPC that is great at keeping the high temperatures out, but also keeps a lot of the body heat generated by someone working hard in – accelerating the rate of sweating and need to rehydrate and cool the body’s core.
The Health Monitoring component focuses on oxygenation, Carbon Monoxide (CO) exposure, heart rate, body temperature, hydration and blood pressure. It is common for Rehab and Health Monitoring Teams to work hand in hand with Ambulance Victoria.
Where and when is Rehab and Health Monitoring used?
Mernda Rehab Support can be called to any fire incident as determined by the Incident Controller. The unit can be responded Code 1.
Consideration for calling on Rehab Support should occur when:
- BA Support is called on to any incident
- There are more than 2-3 BA teams involved
- Prolonged incident (Structure, grass and scrub or HAZMAT Incident)
- FDI @ 25+ during FDP
- High ambient temperatures due to weather
As a brigade, we have conducted Rehab and Health Monitoring at a number of large scale incidents including the Portland Ship Fire, Somerton and Coolaroo Tip Fires, Footscray Supermarket Fire, Diggers Rest grassfire, Wye River/Lorne Fires as well as smaller structural fires. At some jobs, we have rotated through crews and shared and resources with other Rehab Specialist brigades.
Who operates the Rehab Unit?
Rehab Operators can be Operational Firefighters or Non-Operational Brigade Members and must have completed training units such as:
- Maintain Safety at an Incident Scene
- First Aid (Level 2 Minimum)
- Rehab and Health Monitoring Training Package
We just want drinking water…
Alongside the Rehab Support Unit, Mernda runs one of two Refrigeration Trailers owned by D14. If you are requiring chilled drinking water and Staminade without Health Monitoring, you can request the delivery of Refrig Trailer #2 via RDO14. This will then be delivered onsite and left with the IC until such time as it’s no longer required. The trailer can be responded separately to the same job as the Rehab Unit, thus allowing the Rehab to respond Code 1 as required.