Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Jaws of Life and other new toys of mine

Car won't start?  Show it who's boss!  Cut it down to size.
It was a long grueling day, and these new toys are heavy as hell.  But if you're trapped in a car with the doors crushed in, me and my boys (and our cutter and spreader toys) can take your doors in less than two minutes, or get the roof off in in less than three.

And there's only one way to get efficiency in that proficiency; practice baby.  You got to spread and cut a bunch of cars to pieces.  Between crews from both fire companies in my town, we sliced and diced five, including what was a pretty nice late model caddy.

Nuthin' better than your cutter 'n spreader.
The curved jaws of the cutter have a deep enough reach to encircle a car door hinge, and more than enough strength to cut through it in a matter of seconds.

If a section of car is too wide for the cutter to get around the hydraulic spreader is brought in; in reverse it's also a crusher which can crush a car body or frame section to a size that the cutter can get around.  Some B posts, the floor to roof post between the front and rear doors, require a crush before a cut.

They're both around 35 lbs - which wears on you after a while.

Holmatro vehicle stabilization sets;
can't have that car groovin' its mass
while we're in there removin' your ass

Having a that car stable before we start working on it is important for a few reasons all having to do with safety, theirs and ours.  Between rescuers, victims and equipment all moving there's going to be a lot of weight shifting around.  A car on its side is inherently unstable - we can't have that flipping; they've been through enough on the inside and we don't want it landing on us on the outside.  Stabilize.

Even a car that's still on its wheels gets stabilized.  We use blocks & chocks to 'take it off its suspension'.  If somebody in there has a neck injury we don't want that vehicle rocking even a little when we get in to help them.

It takes a hoard
for safe extraction by board

Proper removal takes five of us.  The best way to get the driver out is to get two of us in the car with him/her.  One directly behind to hold the head steady, hopefully preventing further neck injury, and one next to him/her to guide the legs out.  Outside the car there's three more of us with the board; one guiding it under the driver, one on the other side of the board to help pull the driver out once their oriented correctly, and one to push the board in and under.  Doing everything possible to keep the hips in line with the upper body and head, we pivot the person onto the board and then slide them up until they're completely on it.  Then that's pulled out and carried to the waiting stretcher.

Well, one day's training spread out on these and other techniques and equipment doesn't make me an expert in any of it.  But if that beeper goes off and it's a car accident / rescue needed I know I can help.  Worth a Saturday learning how to me.  And the hot soak in the tub at home afterwards felt damn good too.


  1. Oooh, I say, BIG boys' toys... and stable hands! True life saver! :)

  2. Bravo for you!!! First Responders Rock!

  3. So cool! Now if you guys could do that to all the cars that dare to drive in front of me, it would be even cooler. But I guess that's not life saving. Though, it would save what's left of my sanity...

  4. Bless you. That's one stressful job, I would imagine. I would think it especially nerve-wracking to get a person onto a board if he or she had a potentially paralyzing injury. You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din.

  5. Hannah,
    all practice so far

    I'm a little slow, so more like a 2nd responder...

    sometimes they don't get out of OUR way, and we're in a big red truck with flashing lights

    love that quote. But anytime I've used it all I got was curious looks.
    I think we're old, buddy.

  6. I echo the bravo and bless you above!




  7. Those toys are amazing and so are the folks that wield them! Hard work, but so rewarding! Thank goodness there are brave people out there who do this stuff. And thank you!

  8. I once had a pair of jeans that looked so damned good when they were on but it took the jaws of life and about 5 men to get them off me.

  9. Q,
    I'd rather be blessed below, where I need it most

    yeah, those hydraulics are kick-ass, but HEA-VEY

    -or one good looking guy in a fast car? HA!