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Tearing open vehicles a good thing in training

Posted by: tdt -

By Robin Scott

     Members of five area fire departments visited Dalhart on Saturday, October 17th for a training in automobile extrication.  The Dalhart Fire Department hosted the event that took place at the People’s Salvage Yard located off of Truck Line Road.  

    Firefighters and EMS from Clayton, Channing, Hartley and Texline joined the Dalhart Fire Department for the training.  Kirk Eckerd, a retired Amarillo firefighter who now works for Advanced Rescue Systems (ARS), conducted the training that focused on the extrication of victims from vehicles involved in automobile accidents. 

    Firefighters had the opportunity to work with the equipment used to peel the top off of a car in just minutes as well as work with one another.  Often, members of area fire departments assist one another at the scenes of fires and motor vehicle accidents.  Having the chance to train with one another allows the members to become familiar with the techniques that each agency uses, as well as gain valuable experience working with one another.  Dalhart Fire Chief Curtis Brown noted, “We set up several mock accident scenes out here so that each of us will have the chance to work with the tools and each other, both are very important to our training.”

    Auto accidents involving injury occur in the United States every minute of every day.  According to The American Iron and Steel Institute’s online publication Steel Works, an online resource for steel, “There are approximately three (3) injury crashes occurring every minute of every day of the year in the United States.”  Because of the high numbers which total approximately 1.9 million injury accidents each year, the steel industry works closely with emergency responders across the United States to provide information and resources on dealing with the steel of a motor vehicle after a crash.

    The extrication equipment, often referred to as “the jaws of life” provide the power necessary to remove parts of a vehicle that inhibit the safe retrieval of an accident victim.  The Hurst Company trademarked the Jaws of Life brand of tools used in extrication.  The tools used in Saturday’s training provided by ARS were similar in nature to what the American public has heard about in the news for years.  Perhaps the most famous extrication occurred in the aftermath of the Loma Prieta earthquake and Oakland fires in 1989.  The nation watched as emergency responders rescued people trapped in vehicles underneath tons of concrete and steel.  The experiences of the firefighters and the response of the community changed the protocol of the emergency responders and better tools were created to quicken the time necessary to save lives.

    For more information about the area fire departments extrication training or other training, contact the Dalhart Fire Department at 244-5454.

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