Public safety personnel train with new extrication tools

By: April Lehmbeck | Advertiser Times | Published June 27, 2013

 Firefighters and public safety officers work to turn a car on its side during training.

Firefighters and public safety officers work to turn a car on its side during training.

Photo by April Lehmbeck

HARPER WOODS — One car sat by the side, as if it had been peeled open like a can of sardines, while staff from the Fire Department and cross-trained police officers went to work on another vehicle.

The scene played out in front of the fire station one morning last week. The crew wasn’t actually trying to extricate someone from the two vehicles, but it was doing some essential training with extrication tools that they are testing to determine which tools to purchase with a $51,000 Assistance to Firefighters grant.

It’s important training because, while they always hope they won’t have to use any of their lifesaving tools on a given day, they need to be ready for when they are faced with an emergency situation.

One of the most exciting tools to officials is a battery-operated Jaws of Life, which they are purchasing with the funds.

“They’re out today showing it to us and kind of training at the same time,” interim Fire Chief Mike Head said of the Apollo Fire Equipment representative at the scene.

The department was able to use some junk vehicles for their training, thanks to Woods Towing.

Head called the battery-operated extrication tool phenomenal and said they were learning a great deal during the training session. Previously, the department had to pull out a generator and the tool was attached to a cord, which can be cumbersome and tricky when trying to maneuver around a vehicle that has been involved in an accident.

“It takes longer,” Head said. “It’s more manpower.”

The battery-operated equipment is lighter and easier to maneuver.

They were also looking at other pieces of equipment for possible purchase, such as stabilizing bars, which, while rescuers work, can secure a vehicle that has been flipped onto its side.

Another piece of equipment is an inflatable air bag. The bag initially is flat, which means it can be placed under a vehicle or other object, if someone is trapped underneath, and inflated to help pull the trapped victim out.

Public Safety Director Jim Burke said this is essential training to keep the skills of the firefighters and cross-trained police sharp.

This morning session wasn’t the only training the departments have been working on lately.

“Our Fire Department has excellent personnel with many years of experience,” Burke said in an email. “They are conducting weekly training with the public safety officers to get them proficient to keep our community safe.”

Head and public safety Sgt. Chris Schaft are teaming up to coordinate the training sessions, Burke said.

“They are doing a great job,” Burke said. “Our objective is to continue to provide excellent services with the funding we have available.”