Get on the Scene
Using scene lighting in the wrong way on an operation or at an incident can lead to more confusion. Gun Trade World explains why.
If you've ever watched the film The Invisible Man starring Elizabeth Moss, you would be forgiven if you suddenly became a little wary of people you can’t actually see, whatever profession you’re in.
For those tasked with protecting us from people who might otherwise be ‘invisible’, getting some lighting into the right places can change the odds in a who-gets-who-first scenario. What you can’t see can hurt you, and while portable lighting wouldn’t have helped Cecilia, shedding light on the task at hand for many professional services can put them at an advantage.
Whether you’re in the military, law enforcement, first responders, or fire and rescue services, potential hazards need to be recognised upon arrival at a scene as quickly as possible. What you can’t see can be more dangerous than who you can’t see.
A common misconception about lighting is that deploying as many lights as possible at a scene will make things clearer. This approach can confuse things. Different lighting types can have different roles to play and too many of them can be disorientating.
If you consider the functionality of LED beams, for instance, some will
have directional qualities for highlighting specific features. Others will have more diffused characteristics, more ideally suited to illuminating wider areas. Some scene lights are adjustable and capable of both, but it’s important to understand how they function and the basic principles of lighting before rushing to a scene.
Imagine a car accident scenario whereby the police have deployed floodlighting on one side, while the ambulance services have deployed directional lighting on the opposite side - the combination of low beams aimed in various directions, combined with the flashing vehicle lights can be dazzling and confusing.
An alternative to this would be to elevate a group of diffused lights from a single source - even if the total number of lumens was less, this configuration would illuminate the scene far more effectively and everyone from all sides would be able to make better judgements on what has happened. Decisions would be made more quickly and potential hazards could be averted, saving lives.
In smaller spaces including buildings, scene lighting can also be far more effective than multiple hand-held flashlights. For example, devices like the Streamlight Portable Scene Light II can be used by assault teams to throw a large amount of light onto the target area of interest. From a tactical perspective, the third or fourth member of the group can then move the light quickly into position, protected with covering lines of fire by the rest of the team for the main assault. After clearing and securing the target area, the rapid deployment of multiple devices like the Streamlight Portable Scene Light and Scene Light II can help further illuminate the zone for further, critical site exploitation. The Scene Light II stacks tightly so a number of them can be transported together easily, but can also offer elevated lighting by forming a tower structure.
Scene lights vary considerably, so work out what’s relevant to the task in hand.
These are all areas of consideration when choosing the right scene light:
• Deployment time
• Size and weight
• Flood or spot beam
• Water resistance
• Recharge time
• Brightness vs run time
• Illumination height
• External power source facility
For professional users of scene lighting, all these factors can be critical in certain circumstances and can influence the success or failure of a mission, fire, or accident emergency. Lighting has evolved at an exponential rate over recent years but with that comes a need for better understanding. In this way, it will continue to help save lives by revealing the dangers that are lurking in the shadows.