The first Austrian technical rescue competition: a promising future of the competence of fire brigades

Published:  17 August, 2010

Three firefighters – Johannes Wildner, Michael Wildner, MD, and Franz J. Wiedermann, MD – report on the first Austrian Technical Rescue Competition organised by the Technical Rescue Team of the Volunteer Fire Brigade of Zirl (“Freiwillige Feuerwehr” - FF Zirl), which took place in Zirl in Tyrol, on 26th June, 2010.

Technical Rescue is an important tool during the first aid in severe traffic accidents. It should be safe for victims and rescuers. However, technical rescue must be done as quick as possible providing the basis for further emergency medical care. Therefore, continuous training is essential, and the athletic competition could help to compare the standards and the performance of technical rescue teams (TRTs).

A total of 14 teams from England, Luxemburg, Germany, and Austria accepted the invitation to participate in this competition. There were several new teams at the starting position in addition to the German champion team from Mönchengladbach and the incumbent vice-champion and twice-champion team from Hampshire. The start of the event was at 07.00 pm on Friday when the teams met for briefing, in the course of which the participating teams were informed once again of the rules and conditions and any open questions were answered by the organising team.

Shortly before the start of the event, a team withdrew from the competition because of conflicting appointments so that a mixed Austrian team was set up in its place. The teams from Hausruck, Inzing and Zirl 1 each contributed two men so that each of the team positions was filled. After team briefing, there was a barbeque where old friendships were renewed and new ones established. On the day of competition, things started early at 07.00 am and the first team had to move into its compound and the scenario for the event was set up.

In the course of the morning, people started to gather in the area reserved for the audience that comprised not only of interested visitors and friends of the fire brigade but also fire brigade comrades who were curious and wanted to get some information about the whole program. Thus, there were visitors from the nearby areas but also from Vorarlberg, Burgenland, and Upper and Lower Austria. In addition, there were also visitors from Bavaria. During the breaks, many took the opportunity to get more information about the event from the friendly referees and the organizing team. We got the impression that in the future, similar things might get newly established in Tyrol or in Austria.

What is it all about?

A team of 6 members is confronted with a difficult accident scene and has to rescue within 20 minutes and as gently as possible people playing the role of patients. The teams are assigned plus points by 4 referees according to a predefined standard. The aspects that are evaluated are the work of the team captain, the medic, as well as the work of the safety unit and the man in charge of tools. After 20 minutes, the most important part of event takes place namely, debriefing. The participants get feedback from the referees at this point. The issue here is not one of showing up mistakes but rather emphasizing the positive and suggestions for possible improvements. All the referees are highly experienced in this area. Thus, the teams could return home with much valuable knowledge about the operation.

Different kinds of refreshments were also available for the visitors and firms with their exhibition stalls offered information on new technical developments in emergency rescue operations.

During the midday break, the trauma team of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service gave a fascinating demonstration, and the visitors gladly delayed their lunches in order to watch the performance. From 02.00 pm onwards, a small workshop offered an opportunity to run through and also practice the guidelines of the Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support.

Around midday, things got really exciting, particularly in the grandstand. The incumbent vice-champion and twice champion team from Hampshire demonstrated its skills and also showed one or other alternative rescue measures.

Participants gathered at about 05.00 pm in the appliance room of the FF Zirl for the final event. After being greeted by the host Commander Robert Kaufmann, Zirl’s mayor Josef Kreiser gave his address in which he gave expression to his enthusiasm for the performance of the teams and of the organizers. This was followed by the much-awaited prize distribution in three categories – best team captain, best medic and the best team.

The global prize for the first Austrian Rescue Competition went to Hampshire (UK), the second prize went to Mönchengladbach (Germany), and the third prize to the team Mamer 1 (Luxemburg).

In the category best medic, the first prize went again to Hampshire (UK), the second prize to Mamer 1 (Luxemburg) and the third to Sinntal (Germany).

In the category of best team captain, the first prize went to Hampshire (UK), and the second prize to Mönchengladbach (Germany)

For us the sensation was the award of the third prize to the captain of the Austrian team.

The Austrian mixed team was placed 8th in the global evaluation and this showed that it is completely irrelevant where one comes from, so long one is trained according to the same set of standards. It needs to be mentioned here that the 6 team members had never before trained together and did not know each other.

Finally, a raffle was held for the participating teams with the prize being Haix Fire Hero. We thank the Haix company for offering 14 pairs of new Haix boots as prizes for the raffle.

The organizing team would like to record its thanks to the helpers from the FF Zirl, the referees from Germany, Luxemburg and Austria, and the company VOG West for placing at our disposal their forecourt for our event.

Author’s affiliations

  • Johannes Wildner TRT Zirl, Austria
  • Michael Wildner, MD, general practitioner and fire brigade physician FF Zirl, Austria
  • Franz J. Wiedermann, MD, anaesthetist, intensive care and emergency physician, Department of Anasthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Innsbruck Medical University, FF Zirl, Austria

You can contact Franz Wiedermann by email:

  • Operation Florian

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