Vehicle In The Water

When a vehicle goes into the water a rapid scene evaluation must be made. A good last seen point must be determined. The Team should look for tire marks or broken rails and debris on the shore or waters edge. Such conditions are also indicators of the patient's condition. Air bubbles or a gas and oil slick help in determining the vehicle's location. They also are indicators that the vehicle has not been in the water long. A good evaluation of the scene can give good indicators of the victim's chance of survival. Trauma should be considered whenever an auto accident is involved with water. Cold water affects the victim's chance of survival due to hypothermia. A tow truck can greatly increase a victim's chances and the dive team should train with one.

Time can be saved by removing victims from the vehicle while it is still in the water. To do this the first in water team must make the decision based on first hand observation. The team must make sure that the car is occupied and the people were not thrown out. Rescuers must consider entanglement before entering any auto. Divers can check an auto by simply using his arms.

A common notion among rescuers is that air pockets may exist inside the vehicle. While they are not impossible, test show they are unlikely to happen. These test show that a car starts to fill up as soon as it enters the water. When a real life situation is viewed, the speed at which a car fills with water increases due to the body damage to the auto.

When a team responds to the scene they must never assume air pockets exist. Most autos float for 30 to 60 seconds before sinking. When the water is deeper than the vehicles length the auto has a tendency to turn over and sink wheels up know as TURN TURTLE. Damage to the car's body also can damage divers. In a current the rescuers should approach from the downstream side. In rivers the team should send members downstream to check for victims. It is unlikely that the vehicle would be moved by currents.

Recovering the vehicle can be by a tow truck or lift bags. Any victims that are dead on the scene (DOS) may be removed after the vehicle is removed from the water.

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