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Date: January 08, 2015 Author: Brandon Winters

Few things are scarier than being trapped in a wrecked vehicle for minutes that seem to pass like hours. Thankfully, many firefighters specialize in vehicle extrication and use special tools to cut through metal and other materials to free those who are trapped inside.

Whether you recently became a vehicle extricator, or you are a veteran of vehicle extrication who would like to brush up on your knowledge of the discipline, take some time to read the following tactics for vehicle extrication. For a more comprehensive view of these tactics, read Principles of Vehicle Extrication, 3rd Ed.

Wear Proper PPE

Personal protective equipment (PPE) will help keep you safe during dangerous events that can potentially occur at crash sites, such as small explosions, the splash of dangerous liquids, and dangerous fumes from the ignition of toxic liquids, to name a few. A vehicle extrication specialist that suffers injuries is naturally less helpful to people who are trapped in the vehicle. That is why vehicle extrication should begin with firefighter safety.

Smash Glass Properly

Firefighters often need to shatter a vehicle’s windows to safely and expediently rescue those trapped inside. However, glass should be shattered in a way that minimizes the chance of injury from flying shards. One way to cut down on flying glass is to break a window by gently striking it in a corner. The window will still shatter or craze, but people trapped inside the vehicle will not have their injuries complicated by lacerations that result from flying glass.

Consider Flattening Tires

One of the first things vehicle extricators do when they arrive on scene is attempt to physically stabilize the vehicle that holds the occupants. One way to add stabilization is to flatten the vehicle’s tires, especially if some tires are already flat and the inflated tires cause the car to be unbalanced. Flattening tires is easy; just use a knife or a core puller. If the vehicle is large and its tires contain lots of pressure, they may need to be deflated from a distance to avoid injury.   

Remove Interior Trim

Removing as much interior trim as possible from the vehicle helps vehicle extricators find the path of least resistance for extricating vehicle occupants. For example, by removing door trim, firefighters can see where the metal impact bar is for the driver’s door, and then extricate the person from a different point to ensure that the process happens quickly. The more interior trim you can remove, the better you will be able to predict the optimal plan of extrication.

Bypass Tough Objects

This tip goes hand in hand with the one above. Although extrication instruments that firefighters use can cut through practically anything, it takes longer to cut through some things than others. For example, cutting off a convertible roof would probably offer less resistance than cutting through safety support bars that protect the cabin from impact. Being familiar with the make and model of vehicles can be a great help to professionals who must work quickly.   

Start Studying Today

The goal of vehicle extrication is to remove accident victims that are trapped in vehicles as quickly and safely as possible. Receiving training in vehicle extrication and using the right equipment allows firefighter to do this. If you are a firefighter who is interested in adding vehicle extrication to your list of skills, Firebooks has the educational resources you need to succeed. Visit our online store today and order your copy of Principles of Vehicle Extrication, 3rd Ed.
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