When you think of rapid intervention teams or rapid rescue operations, hazmat isn’t often front of mind. Yet a Pennsylvania-based firefighter-run company that makes quick rescue boards does look at how to rescue downed hazmat responders.
FAST Rescue Solutions sprung out of longtime Philadelphia special operations firefighter Eric Allen’s seeing a need for a better way to remove downed firefighters and victims from hazardous environments. After experimenting with different designs, he landed upon what is now the FAST Board. In 2015 he partnered with long-time friend Sam Cohen to launch the company.
The company modified the original design by adding a drag blanket attachment. This allows rescuers to remove victims over debris and through hazardous materials. It also provides more coverage when the victim is encapsulated in hazmat PPE.
While each of the company’s members is trained and experienced in different fire and rescue disciplines, each is certified to the hazmat technician level.
Fellow Philadelphia firefighter and hazmat responder, Chris Simpson is one of FAST Rescue’s subject matter experts. Simpson says the company is looking to be part of a change in the fire service culture.
“Changing the culture on rescue operations,” Simpson says is their biggest challenge. “[We want to] spread the cultural change and the dynamic shift needed in emergency services.”