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Extrication: Back to Basics Part 1

David Pease, Chief

The next basic step is to stabilize the vehicle. This can be done with step chocks, wedges, cribbing, and/or struts, another basic technique that should not change. You should not overlook making the vehicle safe to work around and work in.

Chocking the tires to prevent forward and backward movement is a must. When you consider stabilizing the vehicle(s), you should aim at having four points of contact to the ground. Although this is not always possible, it is what you should shoot for.

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You also want to prevent any side-to-side movement, as well as up or down. You should think of the vehicle in a 360 degree environment and prevent movement in all directions. You want to make the vehicles safe to enter and treat your patients, cut on the vehicle and package the patient and remove them from the wreckage.

Once the vehicle is stabilized and the frontal airbags are disengaged, it is time to look for additional hazards such as side or curtain airbags.

This is a simple and easy process that will only take a minute and could prevent injuries or even a fatality. It is worth the extra minute.

You need to check the side of the seats and doors for the SRS (supplemental restraint system) lettering, as well as the plastic above the doors, and on the post. The SRS lettering lets you know there are additional airbags that have to be dealt with.

The next step is to peel the plastic back, “rip and strip” before you determine when and where you want to cut. To cut through a 5000 psi cylinder could prove to be disastrous.

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