Vent, Enter, Search: Turning A Blind "I"...
(Photo by Dick Harris)
You don't have to look very far to see the positive aspect of the ongoing discussion of VES and VEIS. The positive is at least people are talking about one of the most dynamic and under-utilized tactics in the fire service. There's no question whether you've embraced the "I" from the sky or not, most of us can agree that when you vent, enter and search you put yourself in a very advantageous position to locate and remove a potential victim.
Most of us know that the (I) isolate portion of the new VEIS, (where you go into the room and immediately sweep the hallway then close the door), has always been present in VES, it just hadn't been isolated into the acronym. The change for some has been made to highlight further the need to teach, practice and perform the isolation of the room in question to be searched. I ask only one question regarding this new trend...
Is it possible to OVERemphasize the isolation?
Now, before you stop reading hear me out.
If the new core of firefighters have only ever been taught VEIS with so much emphasis on the "I" (that we felt the need to change the acronym), I have to wonder are they also being taught what to do when you CAN'T isolate the room?
Yes, as many of us know the fire ground likes to defy and dismantle our acronyms.
There are times when your diligent size up of windows, building layouts and on scene information failed you and the room you entered turned out NOT to be a bedroom, but rather a day room, bonus room, ect. that doesn't have a door to control...what then?
Do we discuss if and when we can keep searching, or when to back off and wait for a hoseline to knock the fire?
Or when the room is packed to the gills with so much shit you CAN'T close the door or when the door is off its hinges or missing...do we discuss propping a door that's fallen off its hinges into a doorway or quickly removing a closet or bathroom door to do the same? Are we teaching our firefighters to handle these situations or have we only talked and preached the best case scenario of VE(I)S?
What we have to ensure is that we don't set firefighters up to be mentally paralyzed on the fire ground in their decision making because the fire ground said, "&%#@ your acronym". VES has and always will make closing the door an extremely high priority. What it also does is leave the door open to discuss not only the best case scenarios but also the worst.