VES is a technique of rapidly searching an area mostly likely to have a victim trapped either because his egress is cut off due to fire or because he has difficulty exiting a structure due to mobility issues. The technique is as follows: Check out the photos!
- First on-scene crews identify the need for VES. Factors include either report of victim or a good indication victims can be found in uninvolved area of the structure. The main egress of structure could be cut off because of heavy fire conditions.
- The crew selects the appropriate tools, including: hand tools, roof hook (pike pole/rubbish hook), thermal imaging camera, and ladder, if necessary.
- The crew clears a window, removing all glass and obstacles including: bars, window screens, drapes, and blinds. On second-story windows, crews can use the ladder to break out the window, but must watch for falling glass.
- The crew sweeps and sounds the floor below the interior window, sill checking for victims and floor stability.
- The crew places hook into the structure leaning out the window. This allows for several things:
It tells exterior crews that VES is going on in that room; it allows for the crews interior to identify the exit by looking low below the smoke to identify the hook; and it allows for firefighters to use their hands and (walk) down the handle to access rooms with higher window sills without falling into the room.
- Interior crew member(s) makes their way to the open door and closes it, checking for fire conditions outside the room prior to closing.
- An exterior crew member positions themselves outside the window, staying in constant communication with interior crew member(s). This firefighter should be using a thermal imaging camera scanning the room for victims, watching the progress of the crew member(s), and monitoring heat and smoke conditions. The exterior firefighter should be in contact with the incident commander to request assistance if necessary.
- If a victim is found, a second firefighter is sent in to assist with removal of victim.
- The firefighter at the window prepares to receive the victim along with exiting firefighters.