In crashes where minutes can spell the difference between life and death, first responders to the accident scene need up-to-date information so they can act quickly and safely.
Knowing specifically where and how to efficiently cut, spread or ram during extrication can make the difference in saving precious minutes and lives as well as ensure the safety of first responders.
Keeping first responders up to date on the latest new technology in vehicles is a challenge for every local fire department. The National Auto Body Council F.R.E.E.™ program keeps first responders abreast of the rapid changes in vehicle design. High-strength steel, airbags, advanced restraint systems, onboard technology and safety around alternative fuel vehicles are all covered in the program.
Hurst Jaws of Life and Municipal Emergency Services (MES), located in Shelby, NC, recently hosted first responders from across the Carolinas at a special NABC F.R.E.E.™ education and guidance program on Feb. 21 at the Hurst factory to help ensure Carolina drivers receive the best prepared response in case of an accident.
“Vehicle manufacturers are taking advantage of the enormous advances in metallurgy to achieve ever-higher levels of crash safety and are adding more and more safety systems. So although cars are getting safer and safer, rescue is getting more and more complex,” said Mike Canon, director of sales for Hurst Jaws of Life. “With much stronger metals to contend with, combined with a growing number of hybrid and all-electric high voltage vehicles presenting new hazards to rescuers, vehicle extrication is getting very complicated, and it’s becoming increasingly important that first responders train as frequently as possible on these new vehicles, which can be hard to acquire. By working with the N.A.B.C. and its F.R.E.E.™ program, we’re able to do exactly that.”
More than 25 first responders attended, joining from fire departments in Kitty Hawk, York, Mooresville, Shelby, Gastonia, Steele Creeke, Concord, Durham, Ash, Clover, Rocky Point, New Hanover, Fayetteville and Odell. State Farm Insurance and Allstate Insurance donated the vehicles for the event, and HONK Roadside Assistance donated the towing services. HURST and MES (Municipal Emergency Services, the largest sales and service company in the rescue tool business) supplied the classroom education and extrication demonstration.