Road Tunnels Manual

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Training of emergency services

Fig 1. Fire service training (Mont Blanc tunnel).Emergency services liable to be called on to intervene in road tunnels obviously need to have the general training required to help people and combat fires in any type of infrastructure. Tunnels are confined spaces in which a crisis or fire can very quickly render rescue operation conditions more complicated. Over and above their technical skills, fire fighters therefore need to be trained specifically for this type of intervention. This training must develop their behavioural knowhow and enable them to deal appropriately with the complex situations they may be confronted with in a tunnel. This knowhow is particularly crucial for the supervisory staff who must be capable under all circumstances of adapting the operational methods initially envisaged, if needed. In order to fulfil this mission, good coordination with the tunnel staff is decisive, requiring meticulous preparation, follow-up and implementation of intervention plans, emergency exercises, and training based on feedback from actual experience.

In the case of cross-border tunnels, attention needs to be drawn to the collaboration required between the countries concerned in order to ensure effective coordination between the rescue teams in crisis situations.

With respect to the rescue teams, the following aspects are emphasized in technical report 2008R03 "Management of the operator-emergency teams interface in road tunnels":

Emergency services are advised to exercise regularly so as to be able to face any situation that may occur in road tunnels. Exercises should always be according to pre-planned operations based on local risk analysis and risk assessment. In addition to these formal exercises, experience shows that it is very important for emergency teams to regularly organise technical visits of the tunnel, its equipment and safety facilities.

Technical report 2007R4 "Guide for organizing, recruiting and training road tunnel operating staff", gives information on the general principles for the training planned for a first response team. This training should include the following aspects in total or in part:

  • internal organization and procedures including the knowledge of the services and professions present in the operating structure, methods of working, record-keeping procedures, reports, etc.
  • knowledge of the layout of the tunnel and associated infrastructure
  • knowledge of all access means to the tunnel (including escape means)
  • knowledge of the location of all the technical rooms of the structure (e.g. control cabinets for fire safety systems or ventilation).
  • knowledge of the location and use of all the safety facilities within the structure
  • available means and possibilities of intervention from the control centre (communication means with the operator and their mode of use)
  • use of special incident response equipment
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