Lift and Stabilize, Volume 3 by David Pease

Lift and Stabilize, Volume 3 by David Pease

When you read this we will be hopefully moving into the fall and out of a tremendously hot and dry summer. Since I can’t predict the future, which would be nice, I hope we have experienced some rain to bring our water levels back up to normal. Writing this in August, I am not going to make a hurricane prediction, but I hope everyone was prepared.

“What is a teacher if not a mirror in which we may receive the divine image into the soul? Who is a teacher, if not a sower of seed and a cultivator of young gardens? What is a teacher if not a shaper of souls and a guide who gently shows the right path for the journey? Who is a teacher, if not the most hopeful of all dreamers, who plants and nurtures and sees the bright destiny and harvest of the work, even when the students cannot? What is a teacher if not a shepherd watching over the flock and leading it to abundant pastures?” I wanted to pass this along for all of you Instructors to think about, as there is much truth in this.

We have talked about basic stabilization, the forces and movements we are trying to prevent, different types of stabilization materials and now the use of the buttress system. Always aim for four points of contact to the ground or other stable means when stabilizing a vehicle. Also, remember that a vehicle on its side has a much higher center of gravity than one resting on its wheels or its roof. Here the buttress system works well, as it becomes much easier to control those higher gravitational forces. For the purpose of this article, we will refer to our stabilization members as struts. We want to place these at least ¾ of the way up on the vehicle. Example would be; a vehicle on its side (see photo) would need to have the struts on the undercarriage placed near the upper uni-body frame. This would be close to the bottom of the rocker channel. The angle to shoot for is between 50 to 70 degrees. A good rule of thumb is if it were a ladder, would you climb it? If the angle is to steep or too exaggerated the weight will not load correctly on the strut.

When placing the struts on the roof side, they would be placed at the base of the “A” post and the “C” or “D” post for stability. Again this places the struts higher on the vehicle. The next key point on using this type of system is the use of straps to secure the bottom of the struts back to the vehicle. This keeps the bases of the struts from sliding during a load or shift. They should be secured at angles and close to the bottom of the vehicle. (see photo) Another good rule of thumb when using this type of system is to think in triangles. The struts and the straps should be set at triangular patterns whenever possible. This will not always be the case, but it will apply a majority of the time.

When using the struts on large vehicles such as trucks and buses, it eliminates the use of large amounts of cribbing. The use of struts NEVER eliminates the use of cribbing or wedges, but does reduce it quite a bit. The struts can be applied under the frame of the trailer or bus, similar to that on the smaller vehicles. (see photo) Again, using this type of system can allow you to manage the higher center of gravity by placing the struts higher on the vehicles such as a bus or truck.

There are several types of stabilization devices on the market; ART, Paratech, Rescue 42, Kodiak, the Crutch, and the Junkyard Dogs, to name a few. They all stabilize and get the job done. I use the Rescue Jacks, as I feel they are a very versatile stabilization system. All pictures will reflect the use of this system, but for the purpose of this article, they are used to show how any buttress system is used. In the case of showing the buttress stabilization system, a picture is truly worth a thousand words.

Next issue we will look at the lifting aspect of stabilization and the use of airbags and lifting jacks. Again, bring the practicing of stabilization into your overall extrication training. Take care and have a great Fall, stay safe, train safe and remember what I always say, “it’s all about training.” If you have any questions or comments feel free to email me at and you can visit our Team website at

David Pease, Chief The Reds Team