Firefighters in Prince Albert did a training exercise to work with one of their most important extraction tools.
During Fire Prevention Week, firefighters demonstrated the sheer power of their hydraulic tools, including the Jaws of Life. Battalion Chief Alex Paul said firefighters in Prince Albert train with their extraction tools many times through the year.
“We will probably bring in half a dozen vehicles per shift to cut apart,” Paul said. “The rest of the days there’s other disciplines we have to keep up to date on.”
Paul said firefighters deploy extraction tools in real-life situations 10 to 15 times per year.
The fire department acquires vehicles from salvage yards to practise extraction maneuvers. Paul said the department tries to find newer vehicles to continue learning and adapting to new vehicle technology. Newer model cars have more airbags, which means firefighters need to learn how to work around different areas of the car.
In the process, supports are placed under the vehicle and tires are deflated. Glass is broken to make access with hydraulic tools easier. The Jaws of Life were then inserted into different locations of the vehicle to make “purchase points,” or openings in the vehicle to either bend and weaken the metal, or separate sections.
At a scene where extraction techniques need to be applied, firefighters have to assess the situation and work with Emergency Medical Service personnel who dictate what priority patients are. Firefighters then determine what tools need to be used, and how to go about using them in the safest way.
“Patient safety is our number one priority,” Paul said. “We need to make sure that using the tools isn’t going to create any further harm to the patient.”
Manual tools still have a place in the Prince Albert Fire Department's kit; Paul said in the event of any kind of hydraulic failure each power tool has its own variation of a hand operated tool.
“You can’t just train with the hydraulic tools, because then if you’re out at a call and something fails, you won’t know necessarily what your next go to tool would be,” Paul said.
On Twitter: @BryanEneas
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