I set off to make a tool that would allow for a safe and easy rescue of a down firefighter while maintaining the integrity of the face piece. The outcome of that effort is the Jack Strap.
With the support and encouragement of my department, I set off to make a tool that would allow for a safe and easy rescue of a down firefighter while maintaining the integrity of the face piece.
What eventually came out of a year of trial, error, and testing was the Jack Strap. It is a tool that replaces a useless shoulder strap on a rapid intervention team (RIT) bag. The Jack Strap uses heavy-duty carabiners to clip into the SCBA plate brackets. After cinching the strap tight using a cam buckle, the backplate of the SCBA now acts as a mini backboard. There are handles for one or two firefighters to grasp, making dragging easier. The Jack Strap brings innovation, simplification, and diversification to RIT deployments and rescues.
When responding to a box alarm, HCFR firefighters must deploy a RIT bag in case of a Mayday. The Jack Strap transforms the RIT bag into a rescue system. It replaces the strap on your RIT bag with a helpful rescue tool for firefighters. By switching out straps, the RIT bag gains a practical, simple, and heavy-duty firefighter rescue tool without increasing the size or footprint of the bag. Operationalizing every part of a fire engine is what makes it an apparatus, not just a vehicle.
We try our hardest to standardize response tactics and equipment across the entire department. When this is done effectively, it increases the likelihood of success in response to fire and emergency medical service calls. However, nothing could be more critical to a rescue event than one of our own. During a Mayday event, time management is critical. Anything we can do as firefighters to simplify and minimize training requirements improves the chances of success and minimizes failure.
Self-explanatory functioning is a critical component of the Jack Strap. The entire device consists of only four components. Two carabiners for clipping into the backpiece, a cam buckle to keep the strap tight, two handles, and the webbing. Although there are many training videos on using personal webbing or rope to effect a rescue drag of a down firefighter, those techniques often require constant refresher training because the skills are perishable. The Jack Strap reduces the cognitive load of the rescuer because the system is self-explanatory, eliminating the need for complicated weaving rope or webbing. This gives the rescuer more time and mental bandwidth to focus on other issues such as transfilling, buddy breathing, escape, breaching, radio communication, and more.
The Jack Strap was designed for rescuing a firefighter with full turnout gear and SCBA. However, the JackStrap can be used without SCBA or even without turnout gear as a lift assist or drag assist system. The Jack Strap would simply clip to its own carabiners after being wrapped around a firefighter or patient’s torso under the arms, and rescuers would then use the grips to carry or drag the firefighter or patient. Furthermore, the rescuer does not have to use the handles on the JackStrap but can connect webbing or rope to one of the heavy-duty D-rings (photo 7), giving the rescuer the ability to wrap the webbing or rope around his chest and pull with his entire body weight. If nothing else, when trying to innovate in the middle of a rescue scenario, would you rather have a RIT bag strap or a heavy-duty strap with carabiners?
The Jack Strap is not meant to replace personal webbing or rope. The Jack Strap instead operationalizes a piece of previously useless gear. Like having cargo pockets on our turnout gear pants, the Jack Strap took undeveloped real estate and made it functional. Every RIT bag in my department now has a Jack Strap. In the event of a Mayday, our firefighters have a simple and reliable way to drag firefighters to safety without their face pieces coming off, their airways being compromised, or damaging their necks unintentionally.