Archived Story

Practice means speed and safety

Published 5:53pm Saturday, March 2, 2013

 

FF/EMT-I Harold Johnson takes a break with the cutters before fire-rescue personnel begin rolling back the dashboard on the dismantled vehicle.
FF/EMT-I Harold Johnson takes a break with the cutters before fire-rescue personnel begin rolling back the dashboard on the dismantled vehicle.

 

It’s the nature of the job for Washington Fire-Rescue-EMS to save lives and property, but this Saturday fire personnel were bent on destruction. Specifically, destruction of a car — and they were using very special tools to do it.

Shift A from both fire stations gathered at Fire Station 1 on the corner of North Market and Fifth streets to practice with the heavy-duty extrication tools that came with a new rescue truck late last year, courtesy of a federal Firefighters Assistance grant.

“We want to make sure everyone knows all the equipment,” said Lt. Doug Bissette. “Every little tip they learn out here is going to help us in the long run.”

Using cutters that pinch through columns of metal and spreaders, that pry it apart, the car was dismantled slowly but surely with everyone in attendance getting a chance to operate the machinery. Accompanied by loud groans and pops of metal being sheared from the car’s body, they took their time, pausing for instruction by fire fighter/EMT Chris Brock. At an accident scene, however, they would have to move swiftly.

According to Bissette, the controlled environment allows fire-rescue personnel the opportunity to learn all aspects of using the tools, but without the pressure of an emergency. As he explained it, in particularly bad accidents, it’s not possible to remove a patient from a vehicle. Instead, a vehicle may have to be removed from the patient.

“We’re just making sure everyone’s ready to use them (the tools) when it comes down to it,” Bissette explained.

Shift A members aren’t the only ones who get to participate in the sanctioned destruction: Leo Lee from Washington Motors donated three cars for the purpose, one for each shift.

The practice is invaluable, said Bissette, though it doesn’t recreate real-life use in full: “Wrecks never happen in the middle of a parking lot like this.”

 

All shifts of Washington Fire-Rescue-EMS will take a turn at dismantling a vehicle with the department’s new extrication tools. Here, (left to right) Fire fighter/Emergency Medical Technician Zach Moricle, FF/EMT Matt van Nortwick and EMT-I Samantha Moore look on as FF/EMT-1 Chris Brock demonstrates severing a metal column in preparation for rolling back the car’s roof.
All shifts of Washington Fire-Rescue-EMS will take a turn at dismantling a vehicle with the department’s new extrication tools. Here, (left to right) Fire fighter/Emergency Medical Technician Zach Moricle, FF/EMT Matt van Nortwick and EMT-I Samantha Moore look on as FF/EMT-1 Chris Brock demonstrates severing a metal column in preparation for rolling back the car’s roof.

 

 

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