Until the last couple of years, the "art" of VES was taboo in some departments and held to only being performed by "seasoned veterans" in others.
Does VES work? Absolutely, the little girl in this video is alive today because of it.
What is VES? Vent - Enter - Search is a technique used to gain access to a structure and perform search operations, usually from a path opposite of the interior search team.It requires a team that is capable of performing a proper interior size up from the exterior, the ability to understand fire behavior, good search techniques and constant situational awareness.
What is the difference between VES and VEIS? Very simple, an acronym. Vent-Enter-Search is performed exactly the same as Vent-Enter-Isolate-Search. We added the "I" to remind firefighters to shut the door to the room being entered.
Why shut the door? Very simple, we make a size up of the room, monitor the smoke movement and then vent the window we are looking to vent. As we make entry into the room, insure that there is a sound floor below you. If the window is high such as in some older type homes, using furniture to solidify your egress is a good move. Some departments have modified an old roof ladder by cutting it down to approximately 5ft. The ladder is lowered into the room and the roof hooks lock into the sill. The VES firefighter now has a confirmed way to exit the room and can even use this ladder to assist in removing a found victim. Once in the room, proceed opposite your point of entry, quickly probe the hallway for any victims and then close the door. By performing this, the flow path will be controlled (evil ugly words I know but..), the smoke condition will hopefully lift and your search may be easier to perform.
Why leave your partner outside the window? Your partner can serve as a beacon and help assist you with your search. Their voice can guide you back to the window of entry, they can use a thermal camera to guide you in your search, and they can be the anchor person in assisting with victim removal efforts.
Watch this video, lets discuss your thoughts on VES.....
Proof positive that when done correctly its an invaluable operation. Its a specific task for a specific set of circumstances. Mrs Smith is on the front lawn pointing to a specific window, or gives a specific location, is seen at the window. Unfortunately I think its a term that gets thrown around alot to spice up drill night and not practiced correctly which could be disastrous. We don't have a lot of fires, and ventilation is done conservatively where I come from. Like anything else if your going to drill on VES, and perform VES, understand VES, its advantages and and not done properly what the consequences could be. Its not meant for every fire.
Mark, thanks for the post, great short and informative. Can you write something on how you go about a traditional "oriented search". Many of us were taught to crawl around holding the firefighter in front of you moving at a snails pace, many of us have adapted and are quicker and efficient, I would just like to hear your point of view or tricks of the trade. Thanks. Hayden