Illuminating Emergency Scenes: Upgrade for Effectiveness|
When people think of emergency services the picture that most often comes to mind is of loud sirens and brightly flashing multicolored lights. Rarely do we think of the rest of the equipment used by emergency responders, but within the professional services themselves there is always a critical eye on finding ways to improve quality and reliability. Scene lighting plays a pivotal role in all of the professional emergency services and administrations are always considering ways to improve their ability to illuminate a response area. With responders often forced to perform in poor conditions and on call at all hours, the ability to brightly illuminate any scene regardless of the conditions is critical to their ability to respond effectively to an emergency.
Portable lighting is one of the most important pieces of equipment an emergency responder has as in the darkness of night, or within the confines of a darkened building, no light means a greatly reduced ability to perform. Responders must be able to provide powerful illumination no matter the conditions and this lighting must be dependable and powerful. Whether it is the an automobile accident that has vehicles situated well off of the roadway or a building that has burnt and lost electrical power responders must be able to illuminate the area quickly and effectively in as little time as possible. It is in these scenarios that portable spotlights can excel and make the difference between time lost and an immediate response.
When considering new lighting equipment the tendency is to focus on vehicle mounted spot and flood lights. Companies like Larson Electronics offer a huge variety of spotlights to choose from and modern technology has made improving on equipment that a department bought ten years practically unavoidable. Vehicle lighting has many advantages, not the least of which is a steady and powerful source of electrical power to connect the lights to. These vehicle lights are typically ideal for illuminating roadside scenes and areas where the vehicle can be brought in close to the work zone. Some of the traditional drawbacks however are the heavy rate of power consumption some of these lights have and the limited control the operators have over their manipulation. Because of their heavy power requirements the vehicle must often be left running for extended periods to avoid draining its batteries. When responding to the scene, responders have little time for directing the lights to the optimal area, and emergency scenes often require responder to frequently move from one area to another.
One of the best ways these problems have been addressed is with the advent of remotely controlled HID spot and floodlights. Lights like the GL-3049HW HID Golight Stryker mitigate the concerns of power consumption by incorporating a high intensity discharge lamp, or “HID” into their construction. These lamps do not use filaments to produce light and instead use an arc created between two electrodes to ignite metallic salts and create a brilliant light beam. HID’s require considerably less power to create a given amount of life in comparison to traditional lamps like the Halogens that until recently dominated the spot light industry. A spotlight like the GL-3049HW HID produces 3200 lumens of brilliant light and can throw an effective beam 2800 feet. This power is greatly beneficial in conditions that require responders to work in areas that are far removed from the vehicle yet must be brightly illuminated. The Go Light's 3.3 amp current draw is significantly less than that of a halogen lamp producing a comparable amount of light, reducing concerns of battery depletion during the course of operations.
When responding to a call, emergency professionals are often presented with scenes that contain multiple response locations, such as in automobile accidents where there can easily be several vehicles involved. In these instances a spotlight with remote control capabilities like the Go Light’s is invaluable and allows the responder to direct the light as needed from as far as 300 feet away. With a weatherproof remote that easily fits into a small shirt pocket, a responder can control the illumination of a work area at the touch of a button with no need to manually adjust the lights as he moves from one location to another.
The lights used by emergency responders must also be durable and rugged. Housings should be weatherproof, lamps should be resistant to impacts or vibrations and connections should be secure and watertight. Go Lights are weather proof and rated for use in marine environments, insuring that weather conditions will pose few problems, and their HID lamps are highly resistant to damage from impacts and shocks. Mounting options for emergency personnel are somewhat limited and overhead locations are preferable to help reduce the chances of interfering with the vision of other responders while still providing adequate illumination of the scene. Magnetic mount lights like the GL-3049HW HID have an advantage in that they can be easily deployed on vehicle rooftops and any vehicle surfaces that will accept a magnet. This allows operators to easily and quickly change the mounting position of the light as well as transfer it from one vehicle to another while still providing a strong mount that can withstand the speeds and jostling that emergency vehicles often encounter.
Lighting is one of the most important tools an emergency responder has and should not be overlooked or taken for granted under any circumstances. While the equipment purchased and fitted several years ago may still operate reliably, it is all too easy to become apathetic when it comes to its use. Operators having become accustomed to their lighting equipment over a period of years can fail to realize that there are great improvements that can be found with an upgrade. Oftentimes it is only when an operator encounters vehicles other than his own that have already been equipped with advanced illumination tools does the realization of how dated his own have become hits home. It is because of this that departments and administrations must constantly assess and evaluate the condition and effectiveness of their illumination equipment as well as the performance and abilities of their personnel. By providing their professionals with the most up to date and effective equipment available, they will also have improved their performance as well.