POLICE Magazine

MAY 2019

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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THE WINNING EDGE 36 P O L I C E M AY 2 019 prevent roll-away or they were standing at the rear of their carrier's deck when the winch let go or the winch cable separated. As illustrated by the incidents listed previously, the same hazards are faced by law enforcement officers at scenes involving towing. DANGEROUS PROCESSES e mechanical process of winch-out or loading includes a winch and cable that's used to connect the tow truck to a vehicle being impounded, recovered, or transported. Tow trucks and flatbed carriers are primarily equipped with electric or hydraulic winches to con- duct pulling or loading processes. Law enforcement contracts typically require a tow truck's winch to hold a minimum of 100 feet of cable and a carrier's winch to hold a minimum of 50 feet. When winching begins, tow opera- tors may need additional cable, pulled from the tow truck to reach a casualty vehicle or a vehicle being impound- ed. e operator releases the winch by "free-spooling" ("free-wheeling") its locking mechanism where the spool turns freely and cable is easily pulled. Roll-aways can occur during winch- ing if the tow truck's hydraulics fail from for example a hydraulic hose blowing out, or if the cable separates during ex- treme pull. A cable separates because of earlier damage or if the operator fails to maintain five wraps minimum of cable on the winch's spool before the cable pulled entirely from the spool. When vehicles are being winched back onto their wheels and at the mo- ment the vehicle lands on the pave- ment, the operator must prepare for roll-away by placing a long 4x4 piece of lumber where the operator anticipates the vehicle's tires will drop. is is also true for semi-truck recoveries when there is no tank-activated air to keep semi-wheels from turning. And once a vehicle drops into place, chock-blocks should be placed in front of or behind the vehicle's tires to prevent roll-away. In cases of unannounced vehicle roll-away, the tow truck's operator sometimes fails to confirm, after pull- ing excess cable to reach the casualty or vehicle being impounded, that the winch is relocked. e process of re- covery winching and carrier loading requires that the tow truck's or carrier's winch has fully returned to the locked- in position, especially if the winch was put into free-spool mode to pull cable. Failure to ensure a winch is fully locked-in can result in someone being injured or killed as the result of vehicle runaway. When a vehicle runs off of a carrier's tilted deck or if the winch lets go during hard-pull, there's a greater possibility that the tow truck's or car- rier's operator failed to fully re-engage free-spool after cable was pulled. I M P A C T E D G E D W E A P O N Z ยจ USE OF FORCE TRAINING, INC. (Above) Diagram showing the danger zones. (Below) Two images showing possi- ble failure points on towing equipment. PHOTOS: R ANDALL RESCH DIAGR AM: R ANDALL C. RESCH

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