Gaining access to a road vehicle in water

Control Measure Knowledge

Opening windows, doors or taking any action that alters the weight of a vehicle in water will affect its stability and buoyancy. It is possible that an air pocket is maintaining the buoyancy of a road vehicle in deep water.

The removal and safety of casualties should be the primary concern during a rescue from a vehicle in water but altering the stability or buoyancy of a submerged or partially submerged vehicle that has not been suitably anchored should be avoided where possible.

Stabilisation or anchoring of a vehicle should be prioritised in flowing water. Hydrology can impact on the stability of a vehicle through actions such as the removal of weight from a vehicle, for example by removing a casualty, or by opening a door. The resultant outcome may cause sudden uncontrolled vehicle movements and present a hazard to both casualties and personnel. Working near an unsecured vehicle should be avoided.

Each situation will need to be carefully assessed to identify the appropriate method and angle of approach to the road vehicle.

If an opening needs to be made, personnel should consider how this will affect the vehicle’s stability and do so from a position of safety. The use of hydraulic rescue equipment may be necessary but the effect of the application of force, safety restraint systems and sudden movements of the vehicle or parts of the vehicle should be considered.

When removing structural elements of a vehicle in flowing water, large or heavy objects should be secured, or the hazard to downstream responders considered.

It may be necessary to brief and appoint a safety officer to monitor the stability and safety of the vehicle if access to it is required to rescue a casualty. For more information refer to Safety officers: Water rescue.

Strategic Actions

Tactical Actions