Cinofili Firefighter Core: Surface scattered research with topographic techniques

(To Lia Pasqualina Stani)

The 115 is the only national telephone number with which all citizens can request the immediate intervention of the VVF rescue teams in the province. The number is active and free throughout the country. The various types of emergency and emergency interventions faced by firefighters on a daily basis have, in fact, a common denominator: the territory.

From the earthquake in Abruzzo in 2009, to the sinking of the Costa Concordia on the island of Giglio, to the tragedy of the Hotel Rigopiano, to the frequent requests for coordination activities for the research of people in difficulty, missing or missing in an impervious environment, the National Body of the Fire Brigade developed the Service of Topography Applied to Relief (TAS).

The TAS is a support activity based on topographic techniques and the use of GIS (Geographic Information System), a software that allows archiving, recording, analysis, display and representation of information derived from geographic data. Methods and tools to locate operational teams in the area and apply digital mapping to rescue operations.

The procedure of the 115 operating room, provides for the research intervention dispersed on the surface, the immediate sending in the area of ​​the fire brigade specialists: SAF (Speleo Alpino Fluviale) cores in impassable areas, the dog cores and the TAS operators, in addition to the VVF personnel.

The exercise takes place in a natural area of ​​about 1000 hectares in the province of Lecce, Park of Porto Selvaggio, is aimed for the training of dog dogs in Puglia and Abruzzo, for the research and identification of missing persons or missing on the surface (mountain, countryside, woods, etc.). To be prepared and ready for emergencies, conditions are created that are as similar as possible to what happens in reality. The intervention simulation involves a distress call by the family members of a dispersed hiker, to the competent authorities that alert the provincial command of the VVF. The construction of the research area can not be separated from the testimonial sources (possibly present and reliable), from the analysis of the human and behavioral profile of the missing person. From the information gathered and from the discovery of personal objects or the car, etc., the PUA (Last Point of Sighting) is established, which is the summit of the area from which the research will start.

It is set up immediately by the PUA, a base camp: the provincial command sends the vehicle AF / UCL (Local Crisis Unit) which acts as a Advanced Command Post (PCA or a mobile operating room), to continue to manage the request for intervention on the spot. In addition to adequate physical space, the presence of an electrical network, radio coverage and GSM coverage is required. Thus began the coordination of the search operations by the TAS operators and the service officer of the provincial Fire Brigade.

The TAS on board the PCA is a connection center where all the SAR components converge (Search and Rescue) engaged in research, each contributes with its own logistical and instrumental resources. Interoperability between the various forces (carabinieri, local police, civil protection, etc.) that may have intervened on the real or simulated scenario, operatively dependent on the TAS, creates synergy that strengthens activities to find the missing or missing person a few hours from receiving the alarm.

The protagonists in the search for the missing young hiker are the cynophilous nuclei of the VVF: the Abruzzo Aurelio core Molly (Labrador), the lifeguard Antonello with Luna (Labrador), the volunteer policeman Laura with Lum (Boxer), the head of Puglia Giampiero with Tommy (Labrador), VNF Oronzo Passabi National Chinophile Instructor with Lycia (Labrador), the team leader Cosimo con Margot (Labrador), the team leader Stefano with According to (Labrador), the vigilant coordinator Giacomo with Nico (Labrador), Major Michele with Peppe (Golden Retriever) and the volunteer policeman Giuseppe with Boris (German Shepherd). Each cinephile unit consists of the VVF conductor and his dog (v.articolo).

The PUA allows to circumscribe the area from which to start the research. Considering the morphology of the territory, the number of available dog cores, of the VVF personnel, the 5 TAS operators on board the AF / UCL vehicle proceed to the "zoning" (or mapping) of the research area, whose partitions are object of patrolling by the dog-loving units organized in research teams.

Each team consists of two canopies. After mapping the site, if each team is assigned a precise area, those close to PUA are the first to be carefully "beat" with respect to peripheral ones, because close to places where the backpack and car 'hiker.

Dog lovers who come to the area to be patrolled, perform environmental assessments relating to the territory, vegetation and air currents to encourage the use of the dog, which as soon as it identifies the "smell cone" will try to find and report to the tenant , the missing. Teams can decide whether to work with one or both dogs.

The patrol tactics to be adopted may be different depending on the terrain and the availability of the teams present on the scenario. In the type intervention methodology systematic, ie aimed at the complete patrolling of the research area, the tactics are comb, parallel, spiral or linear. If, on the other hand, an intervention methodology is chosen dynamic the tactics are "pincushion" (squared zone and 2 teams move in the opposite direction) or "network" (more teams move to a predefined center following converging directions).

Both on real and simulated scenarios there is no rigid operating procedure, the areas are however "reclaimed" carefully. Each team independently selects the patrol tactics based on the experience gained by each dog unit.

The tutorial involving TAS operators and Cynophiles of the National VVF Body aims to improve the search for surface dispersion through the use of GPS and GIS technologies. Each research team is assigned a topographic map showing the "perimeter" of the perlustration area, a GPS device, and a geo-localized radio transmitter that allows you to locate VVF men and vehicles in real time across the country. The geolocation system used by TAS teams uses a national VVF network up to 400 Mhz. At the base of this system, radio and VPN network technology is used in conjunction with the TLC (remote telecommunication) service of the National Fire Brigade Body. Each VVF operator and vehicle is equipped with these radios with geolocation software that allows you to transfer information and data to the GIS system to provide TAS with the control and coordination of the various units deployed on an operational scenario either in emergency or in the case of ordinary activities. With this system it is possible to georeferencing VVF media and personnel, ensuring control, monitoring and coordination at provincial, regional and national level.

On the GPS, however, the TAS operators "trace" the area assigned to the team. The GPS records the path that the dog units perform in the area to be beaten, leaving a "trace" of the research carried out.

At the end of the research (partial or final), the TAS acquires GPS traces and processes the points of interest on a graphical elaborate.

The GPS tracks testify to the quality of the search operations carried out by the individual teams.

The use of GPS technologies, geo-localized radio communications and mapping software make it possible to optimize resources, plan operational work, historicize, evaluate data collected and monitor research areas. In this way there is a visual overview of the evolution of the operating scenario, of the participating personnel and analysis of the support to the planning activity of the interventions.

Firefighters have always used cartography. For any intervention in the city if the team does not know the way to go, there are several software in use that allow, once the address is entered, to print on paper the route from the barracks to the destination to be reached. If the intervention is outside the urban area, a topographic map is obtained from which the information needed to carry out the rescue is obtained.

In this way, the management of interventions from the operating room and from the advanced command post is therefore considerably facilitated.

This can be decisive in the most varied interventions: people research, forest fires, NBCR scenarios (nuclear, bacteriological, chemical and radioactive), rescue in the aquatic environment, floods, earthquakes, landslides, interventions carried out by helicopter, interventions in industrial sites at risk , etc. During the search for a missing person, through various cartographic management programs, it is possible to view the operations area on the PC screen. Often, however, these cards are difficult to interpret, as well as complicated to search and manage. The role of the topographer applied to the rescue is an innovative and specialized professional profile with appropriate theoretical and practical training, which manages to combine cartographic knowledge with the reality of urgent technical assistance.

Training of TAS Personnel (Topography Applied to Relief).

The TAS training course is divided into 2 levels. The 1 TAS is the qualification required for all VVF operating personnel, acquired in the basic entry courses of the last few years. The TAS operator 1 correctly interprets the topographic maps. He is able to use chart tools and GPS, he can move in an inaccessible environment in search for missing items.

TAS 2 is the advanced level: the operator processes the data captured and transmitted by TAS1. The TAS2 operator is usually employed on board the AF / UCL medium to perform the function of the Provincial Command on site. It carries out the task of connecting, acquiring, processing all geo-related data related to the operational scenario, and realizing maps for decision support in rescue operations.

The use of TAS support allows the National Body of VVF to guarantee versatility of use in different types of intervention: it is a valid and necessary support tool in dispersed research, seismic events, water rescue in marine, river and lake environments, floods , fire maps in forest fires, accidents in industrial sites, etc.

The mapping drawn up by the TAS sector during emergencies, implements the historical database of the actions of the National Fire Brigade Corps, and can be consulted in the event of cyclical disasters for the deployment of operational assets and to decide the operating procedures.


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