Chief Miller offered up explanations of what was
happening. Firefighter Weakly, with assistance from Assistant Chief
Dahm and Captain Larry Spurling, demonstrated two different means of
breaking into a vehicle.
In the first exercise, Miller explained that the passenger door,
while open, was not open wide enough for rescue workers to get
inside and assist a person in the front seat. In order to make more
room, Weakly would use a “come-a-long” to pull the door away from
the vehicle. A come-a-long is a cable and pulley device that can be
used by only one person to pull quite a bit of weight or resistance.
Using the ratcheting device, Weakly pulled the door back until it
was completely against the front side of the van. Miller then
explained that with a wider opening, there was room for firefighters
or EMT’s go get inside the van with the victim.
Chief Miller also told the scouts that with a number of people, they
could do virtually the same thing with a rope.
Chief Miller then took the opportunity to talk to the kids about
what to do if they come across an accident on the road. He said that
rule number one is stop. He explained that many times people will
pass an accident, call 9-1-1, but keep on rolling down the road. If
dispatch asks where the accident is and the caller doesn’t know, the
phone signal could be used by 9-1-1 to locate the incident. However,
if the caller didn’t stop, then it will take longer for EMT’s and
firefighters to find an accident.
After calling 9-1-1, check on the people in the car and see if you
can offer assistance. At the least, you may need to call 9-1-1-
again. For example, if there are three or four injured people inside
the vehicle, multiple ambulances may be needed.
[to top of second column]
Miller was asked what came first, victims or fire, if a
vehicle is burning. He said the vast majority of the time, the
fire gets put out first. However, if the people inside the car
appear to be in imminent danger from the fire, the process could
Weakly also demonstrated what most people refer to as the “jaws
of life.” There are actually two pneumatic devices involved,
both run by air pressure from the fire truck. One is a cutter,
and the other is a spreader. Cutters are used to cut away metal
to free a jammed door. Spreaders can be used to create a gap
between the door and vehicle frame. Weakly demonstrated how the
cutters can be used with a third piece of equipment to pull the
Using the cutters, he chopped through the door frame at the
front windshield. He then placed a hydraulic cylinder in the
door frame. Again using air pressure, the cylinder expanded,
pushing the windshield and front part of the vehicle away from
the rest of the car body.
[By NILA SMITH]