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Extrication: Back to Basics Part 1

David Pease, Chief

The first of August, my Guatemala Rescue Team left for a week to train their folks in basic rescue techniques. We had to utilize the equipment we were able to get donated. This was composed of mostly hand tools, but did include a hydraulic combi-tool, some reciprocating saws, and stabilization jacks.

We were tasked with teaching these folks the basics of vehicle extrication. I had a chance to teach some old school. I guess I am dating myself again. As with all extrication techniques, some of the basics never change.

Even with all the new tools and technologies we now have, sometimes the basic techniques work the best. This is the place we should all start.

Over the years auto technology has changed a lot. They introduced the frontal driver’s airbag in the seventies and continued to improve and add since that time.

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We now have to not only consider frontal bags, but side and curtain airbags as well. We also have to be aware of seatbelt tensioners, another safety device that could cause us problems.

Then along comes the Hybrid vehicle that uses electric and gas for power. How do we keep up with all the new technology and changes that come out with every new car introduced on the market? Pretty much we can’t. We can read articles on new technologies and attend classes on these topics, which will help us some in doing vehicle extrication. Does all this new technology change what we do or how we do it? The answer is yes and no.

The fact is, if we don’t take some preliminary steps in our assessment, it could prove hazardous to our health and the health of those around us. When frontal airbags came on the market, we learned to stay clear of the area between the steering wheel and the patient.

We also learned that we should make every attempt to disconnect the battery cables so the airbag capacitor will drain and no longer activate the bag. This has not changed and we should still be doing this. This is still a basic technique that should be practiced on motor vehicle crashes. The concept of frontal airbags has not changed.

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