Vehicle Recovery

Recovery is retrieving, that is, freeing immobile, inoperative, or abandoned equipment from its current position and returning it to operation or to a maintenance site for repair. These actions typically involve towing, lifting, or winching. Recovery consists of—

Self-recovery: Actions require using only the equipment’s assets. Self-recovery starts at the location where the equipment becomes mired or disabled. The operator/crew uses the available recovery items to perform self-recovery.

Like-recovery: Actions involve assistance from a second, like, or heavier class vehicle. Like-vehicle recovery is used when self-vehicle recovery fails. The principle is to use another piece of equipment—of the same weight class or heavier—to extract or tow the mired equipment by using tow bars, chains, tow cables, and/or allied kinetic energy recovery rope (AKERR). When self-recovery and like-recovery are not practical or are unavailable, use dedicated recovery assets.

Dedicated-recovery: Actions require assistance from a vehicle specifically designed and dedicated to recovery operations. Dedicated-recovery vehicles are used when self-recovery or like-vehicle recovery is not possible because of the severity of the situation, safety considerations, or the inability to use like-vehicle assets.

Recovery can be inherently dangerous unless safety is continually practiced. Each of the recovery functions (winching, lifting, towing, and expedients) must be performed with safety as the primary concern. Always follow the safety warnings for both the recovery vehicle and the recovered vehicle or equipment. Maintaining an awareness of the following key factors and actions can help prevent damage to equipment and injury to personnel.

  • Be aware that winch cables can break and backlash into personnel.
  • Exercise extreme caution when towing.
  • Check the operator’s manual for guidance and to validate repair procedures.
  • Establish minimum safe distances and clear all unnecessary personnel from the recovery site.

Know recovery equipment capabilities and limitations. Winches have tremendous power, and, if not properly secured to the disabled vehicle, winches can rip off tow lugs, bumpers, and other attachments that often become projectiles, injuring personnel and/or damaging equipment. Always follow the safe rigging guidelines. Keep all but the minimum required personnel away from the recovery area. Each person conducting the recovery must know where all other personnel are located at all times.

If you may be conducting recovery during hours of darkness, check out the page on marking your tools and equipment for night repairs and recovery.