Emergency and First Responder Scene Lighting|
Of all the equipment first responders need to perform their duties quickly and efficiently, lighting equipment ranks up there among the most critical. In order to respond and perform under all conditions, it is necessary that the equipment they carry be suited to the aspects of any emergency scenes they may be called to visit. With their duties taking place at any time, and much of their calls involving after daylight hours responses, the ability to illuminate a scene quickly is vital.
Of all the aspects involved with emergency response, speed and efficiency top the list. Since by their very nature emergency scenes are widely varied in location, lighting equipment must not only be effective but portable. The equipment used by responders must be easy to deploy immediately upon arrival in order for responders to be able to make fast and reliable assessments of the situation. This lighting must be able to not only provide fast illumination, but also provide powerful and comprehensive illumination as well. It must be able to illuminate the workspace as well as the surrounding area in order for responders to assess, monitor and address the conditions not only directly on the scene but surrounding it as well.
Because of these factors several key aspects of portable lighting gain prominence and factor heavily in the choice of equipment to be used. The equipment must be easily transportable and maneuvered, powerful, ruggedly constructed, and able to perform for extended periods either through the use of a self contained power source or through an independent yet readily available power source such as a vehicles’ electrical system.
Equipment for use by emergency and first responders must be lightweight in order to facilitate its transport and setup. At the same time, this equipment must be durable, rugged, and capable of withstanding substantial rough handling and movement while remaining operational. The equipment must also be sturdy and have a solid footing in order to allow a set and forget attitude that lets responders spend more time attending to the situation rather than their equipment.
The type of lamp used is also important. Different types of lamps and bulbs have varying benefits and drawbacks that have direct bearing on their suitability for use in emergency scenes. The light produced must be powerful and have good color rendering in order for responders to be able to make the most accurate judgments and assessments. Although incandescent lamps commonly used in scene lighting like Halogens are capable of producing significant amounts of light, these types of lamps are somewhat frail and prone to failure at inopportune times. HID lamps provide a better solution in that their non filament design and better color rendering provide a lighting solution that shows fine details more accurately while being longer lived and less susceptible to damage from movements or vibrations that can cause normal incandescent lamp filaments to break.
LED lamps provide what is perhaps the most effective solution. These lamps although not as well established as halogens or HIDs, offer a level of durability and efficiency that is unmatched by either. Their solid state design and very low current draw while providing substantial light output make them ideal for situations requiring a highly mobile yet powerful lighting source. Light towers like the Larson Electronics WAL-LED10W-4S LED Light Tower are an excellent choice for use in emergency scene and offer the ability to provide thousands of lumens of bright white light in a small and efficient package that can be deployed in a matter of 30 seconds. LEDs offer a very low current draw, which allows portable units such as this to run for over 6 hours on a single charge of their batteries.
Providing the energy to power these light sources is another area where responders simply do not have a great many options. Most applications may allow operations within a close distance of the responders’ vehicle making this a primary power source in most situations. Other situations requiring responders to enter into structures of navigate uneven and remote terrain requires equipment that incorporates self contained power sources in the form of rechargeable batteries. These typically need to be as compact as possible to maintain a low unit weight, yet also able to supply ample current for significant periods of time. Lithium ion batteries are the top choice for smaller and handheld lighting units because of their smaller size, higher power output, low maintenance and ability to withstand over a thousand charge cycles before requiring replacement. Compact units that can be carried or rolled can use deep cycle rechargeable batteries that offer long run times and high energy output.
The materials used in the construction of emergency scene lighting plays an important role in its suitability for use. The most effective units will use materials such as aluminum and high strength nylon and plastic composites that offer great durability while keeping the overall weight of the unit to a minimum. Additionally, the equipment should be able to withstand significant exposure to the elements and be weather resistant and able to withstand some exposure to foreign compounds and materials such as chemicals or sand.
Some final considerations for the lighting equipment to be added to a first responders list includes the ability to easily monitor the strength and condition of its power sources while in use and the ease with which the unit may be serviced and maintained. While equipment is in use it is important that the state of a portable lighting systems battery charge is easily monitored. Well lit and easily read indicators and meters should be prominently located and easy to view.
The equipment should require little maintenance to ensure its ready state between uses. There should be as few loose parts as possible and lamps, battery compartments, switches and connections should although well sealed against intrusion by water or contaminants, also be easy to access for cleaning and replacement when necessary.
All of these factors represent some of the most basic considerations that should be made when selecting a unit for use as emergency scene lighting. By addressing these concerns, responders ensure that they will be able to perform their duties to their maximum potential regardless of time or location.