Current Best Practices
Knowing what to do in an emergency situation can make all the difference
Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht
and Operation ALIVE
Because vehicle submersion carries such a high fatality rate, Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht, professor of thermophysiology at the University of Manitoba founded Operation ALIVE in 2006 (Automobile submersion: Lessons in Vehicle Escape).
He has performed over 150 vehicle submersions, most with people inside, studying the characteristics of sinking vehicles in order to determine the safest exit strategies and prevent vehicle drowning. He has published nine papers on the topic and rewritten emergency response protocols for emergency response operators for vehicles sinking in water and stranded in flood water.
These protocols are used in 60% of the English-speaking world and have been translated into many other languages.
The current and best survival advice is to perform your own rescue instead of waiting for help to arrive:
- Don’t panic
- Don’t reach for your cell phone
- Remember 4 actions (SWOC):
Windows Open or Broken
Children first, oldest to youngest
But the Majority of People Don’t Own One
To be effective, it must be visible and reachable when needed. It should be kept in plain sight, such as hanging from the rear-view mirror, and preferably of a bright color.
Know your tools:
Spring-loaded center punches cannot break laminated and polycarbonate windows, or other types of unbreakable glass. Shatter resistant glass types offer protection from high velocity road debris, a key reason why they are increasingly used in vehicles, but they present a significant risk to passengers in specific situations such as vehicle submersion.
Vehicle submersion is a highly stressful situation and human error remains a key contributor to the high fatality rate.
That is why, in addition to knowing what to do and arming yourself with manual tools such as resqme, the need for an automatic solution that removes human error and lowers the windows is essential.