After reading pyrotechnics safety tips, a noder suggested that I should add a node on a first aid kit for pyrotechnicians. Here is the result.
Pyrotechnics, whether used as a part of a theatre performance, or used as a separate FX prop, is a field of theatre art where safety is paramount. However, no matter how careful you are, small accidents might happen, and the more you work as a pyrotechnician, the higher are the chances of something eventually going wrong. This is particularly true for body squibs (for the actors), but the same thing applies to all pyrotechnic effects.
As a pyrotechnician, your primary concern is your audience. If the audience is close to the stage, or is there is a lot of pyrotechnics effects in use, you might want to consider a separate team of first aid personnel.
The pyrotechnician first aid crew
For the crew (or the pyrotechnicians themselves) you will want to make sure they are very visible. This is because of people’s inherent fear of fire – if something does go wrong on stage, panic is never far away. The quickest way to quench panic is to act as if nothing went wrong (this is only true when the danger has subsided, of course. If something is still posing a threat, different measures might be necessary), and to start giving instructions to the crowd.
At all times, the pyrotechnician and his/her fire-crew should have the pyrotechnics props under control. This means that the remaining crew (i.e the first aid / panic crew) should be dedicated to worrying about the audience. The first aid crew should preferably have some pyrotechnics training, but even if this is not true, they should definitely trust the pyrotechnician and the fire crew 100%. This way, they can concentrate on the audience.
The fire crew should have strong coloured vests (think road worker vests) on, and (if there are very large crowds, i.e more than 1000 people), they should have megaphones available. If something should happen, the prime concern is crowd control, because a panicking crowd can create far more mayhem then any pyrotechnics effect ever can.
The first aid crew should therefore be firm and concrete in their directions to the crowd.
The pyrotechnics first aid kit
If the primary threat (the pyro props themselves) is out of the way, and the secondary threat (panic in the audience) is out of the way, the next logical step is to treat the wounded.
There are really just three threats in pyrotechnics. The most common threat is that of burns. Fast burns (usually after props blow up somehow) or show burns (from being exposed to fire) are treated the same way. The second danger is woundings from explosions; Shrapnel from canisters (such as maroons) blowing up, or finally; The crowd panicking and harming themselves.
A pyrotechnics first aid kit should contain the following:
The buckets of water, the ice, the eye-cleaning bottles and the pressure bandages should be self explanatory. With these three items, you can pretty much perform all self aid that is needed in connection with pyrotechnics. The are also pretty self explanatory.
All light burns (1st degree), you will want to cool down and keep cooled for an hour or so.
The Hansaplast thing is a small spray canister. You spray this on small, light burns (typically fingers and hands), and leave it on for about a minute. If you are quick enough with applying this, you will not even notice the burn the day after. This is often more useful for the pyro-crew than for the audience, but should nevertheless be part of the outfit.
If you have been extremely unlucky, and you have magnesium burns (many pyrotechnics props use magnesium for the light effects), you might have severe problems, because magnesium continues to burn even after it hits the skin, and can cause extremely nasty burns. Unfortunately, there is not an awful lot you can do. Cool the wounds down with ice, and hope that the ambulance crew arrives soon.
As with all safety, prevention is your best defence – the best thing you can invest time and money on is to make sure nothing goes wrong.
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