Is Your Training What it Should Be?
David Pease, Carolina Fire/Rescue/EMS Journal
Another problem we run into while teaching vehicle extrication, is most of the time we practice our skills and techniques on cars we acquire from the salvage yard. These cars are usually older models, and have minimal damage. This is fine for practicing and mastering your basic cutting, spreading, lifting, and pushing skills. But if you think about it, how many cars do you extricate victims from that look like the ones you train on from the salvage yard.
I would be willing to bet, very few. I use an example in my classes to show this very thing. I take an aluminum drink can, empty of course, and cut a three sided hole in the side of the can, then peel it back like opening a door. This is like we train for extrication. Then I take another aluminum drink can and crush it, I then ask the class, “now make that same cut, as this is how we have to perform extrications in the real world.” It brings a really good point to light.
We practice on cars that are not damaged, and perform extrications in the field on cars that are damaged to the maximum. Perhaps we should consider doing some of our training on cars that we have crushed, giving us a more realistic training scenario.
The other problem with new car technology is we are seeing more and more crashes involving new cars. I know of two incidents, and I am sure there are many more untold, where the side air bags were activated by the rescuers attempting to perform an extrication. Why was this, because of their lack of education and training on new car technology. And honestly, we will never be able to keep up with the ever changing world of automobile manufacturing.
There is an up side to this. One reason there is not more rescuer activated air bags, is that most of the cars we extricate on are usually heavily damaged. This will render the systems inoperable or they have already deployed, so cutting post and roofs are less of a risk for the rescuer. This does not replace the need for good training and learning new car technology. We have always got to stay on top of our game and be the best we can be.