Escape and Rescue Solutions - Workers put emergency safety plan into action with Dräger Saver CF gear

Escape and Rescue Solutions

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Safety first: staying prepared for every emergency

Critical situations can arise at any time – and that’s why it’s essential to be prepared for emergencies, with an effective escape or refuge plan in place. To enable rapid reaction and effective emergency response, workers should be trained for emergency situations and the right escape and rescue equipment should always be at hand. A prerequisite for this is structured safety and emergency management.

How rescuers become victims

In 2017, 166 people died while working in confined spaces, in the USA alone.1 This type of work is marked by narrow entryways, poor ventilation, low headroom and limited space for movement. If dangers are not recognised in time, the likelihood of accidents increases. When CSE (confined space entry) accidents happen, they often end up deadly due to toxic gas concentrations, lack of oxygen, explosions, movable parts, the collapse of a platform, a fall from a ladder or similar. 

What’s more: very often, rescuers meet with hazardous risks themselves. Rescue missions can be thwarted due to adverse conditions – the same conditions that caused the original accident. Insufficient training of rescuers and untested rescue approaches can also lead to serious accidents. According to EHS Today, two thirds of victims who die in confined spaces are, in fact, rescuers.2

Rescue from confined space

Why do escape and rescue attempts fail?

Rescues from confined spaces can be unsuccessful when rescue plans don’t exist or are insufficient. This results in the use of inappropriate safety equipment or the misuse of rescue devices. In addition, irregular training, lack of operational experience or inadequate knowledge about the location can hinder rescue efforts. Entry points could also be restricted in such a way that makes it difficult for rescuers to get to victims, especially when heavy respiratory equipment is necessary. If emergency and contingency plans do not exist at all, the coordination of actions relies on spontaneous decisions and the actions of individuals.

Recognising hazards, evaluating risks and planning rescue approaches

The importance of evaluating risks cannot be underestimated. Keeping an overview of incidents is fundamentally important to the effective execution of escape and rescue procedures and the timely response to emergency situations. You therefore need to prepare yourself to estimate the significance of occurring incidents with risk assessments on a regular basis – so that they are at hand when they are needed and you have a relevant overview of the threats.

Risk assessment matrix

This matrix presents a risk assessment of an incident, based on classification of injury potential in relation to occurrence probability.

Resulting risks can be reduced by means of the levers prevention of damage occurrence and decreasing the severity of damage, through the correct implementation of technical and organisational measures and lastly, through employing relevant personal protective equipment.

From the information collected, essential protective measures can also be derived. These protective measures are equally important for consideration when implementing a rescue. Just as with rescuer training and action plans, these measures are subject to continuous ongoing development. Rescue approaches must be adequately and regularly tested and updated. Standard processes can help to identify hazards and assess risk: for instance, a standard form can systematically document potential hazards and occurrence probability.

Hazard assessment form

Evaluate risks by matrix

List risks, assess risks and estimate probabilities: use our example form for hazard assessment to keep a watchful eye on potentially dangerous incidents.

Download form

Developing a specific rescue approach

The information that emerges from the risk assessment provides the basis for the overall evaluation of specific onsite working conditions. As a rule, when it comes to confined spaces, such an evaluation is carried out by a team of various experts that includes, among others: safety engineers, safety supervisors, gas analysts and occupational physicians. A rescue approach developed on this basis always considers the worst case scenario – so that all eventualities are considered, described, and handled appropriately. This includes:

  • triggering a chain of rescue, internally (onsite fire department) and externally (official fire brigade)
  • the provision of ready-for-use rescue equipment
  • a pre-determined point for handover to the external rescue chain

For every individual workplace and for every area identified as a confined space, a corresponding and very specific rescue plan must be in place.


Four parts to a preventative approach

STOP Principle image

A tailored and detailed rescue plan for a specific confined space should always be based on the hierarchical STOP Principle. This follows a preventative approach in line with the so-called “Safe System of Work”. 

S stands for substitution of work processes, with the goal of completely eliminating specific risks. 

T stands for technical measures

O stands for organisational measures

P stands for personalised measures.

Three parts to a rescue approach

TOP Principle image

The rescue approach resulting from the STOP Principle should follow the TOP Principle in emergency situations. 

T stands for the availability of appropriate technical equipment, such as a tripod with a pulley or pre-equipped fixed points where ropes are mounted. 

O stands for organisational measures such as, for example, training for rescue operations in vessels, silos, and confined spaces and the drafting of a seamless internal and external rescue chain. 

P stands for personalised measures in regards to self-rescue. This refers to a relatively easy rescue, also called a “basic rescue”. 

The person learning these measures must be provided with information so they have adequate knowledge on the topic “identifying and evaluating dangers”. The correct application of escape equipment should also be practiced. What’s more, external rescuers should also be trained with regard to first aid and the correct process of the rescue chain.

Stefan Dräger
“A reliable safety management system needs a smart concept, the right equipment and regular training.”

Stefan Dräger, Executive Board Chairman

Solutions for escape and rescue concepts in the mining industry

Working in a mine presents many challenges and potential risks. Mining accidents can have disastrous consequences. In an emergency, it is essential to get people to safety as quickly as possible and to prevent larger damage to the mine. To ensure that you are prepared for such emergencies, Dräger offers comprehensive solutions for escape and rescue – adapted to your specific working environments, conditions and different rescue scenarios.

Light in the middle of the tunnel booklet

Safety you can rely on underground

When you’re working underground in confined spaces, no matter which precautions are taken, the possibility of something going wrong can never be ruled out 100 percent. Dräger refuge shelters can be your backup in such emergencies. Learn how various sizes and functionalities help keep you on the safe side of working life – even in worst case scenarios.

Download booklet

Related product areas

A focus on underground and mine safety during tunnelling operations

Underground Safety & Rescue Equipment

Miner wears a Dräger Oxy 6000 MK II oxygen self rescuer on his belt

Self Rescuers

Industrial worker checks Dräger X-am 3500 portable gas detector screen

Portable Gas Detectors

Gas levels measured with the Dräger X-pid 9000/9500 at confined space entranceway

Confined Space Entry

Emergency situations are not the only time to stay attentive: daily working life in CSE workspaces needs full attention, even during normal conditions. Take a closer look at our CSE-related safety advice to minimise the risks.

Learn more

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