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Local first responders learn extraction safety

The scenes at traffic accidents can sometimes be horrific and many times underneath all that twisted steel and metal there's a living victim needing to be rescued.

Posted: Oct. 18, 2018 9:38 AM
Updated: Oct. 30, 2018 3:51 PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.)

It was hands on training on how to someday save a life.

Around 50 first responders from northwest Missouri got a refresher course on how to extracate a crash victim from a vehicle.

The responders learned that as technology in cars change, so must their rescue techniques.

"With new high strength steel and new laminated glass in the side windows, everything has changed for the safety of the subjects in the vehicle safety," said Billy Hurt, the trainer brought in from Alex Air Apparatus, a company that makes a tool used in the extracation process. "It's harder for the firefighter or the responder to get in the vehicle."
In more than 30 years as a firefighter in Columbia, Missouri, Hurt estimates he's saved several hundred people, extracating them from wrecked cars. He now uses what he's learned over the years to teach other responders his tricks of the trade.

"There is a strategy," he said. "A lot of it depends on how the people are trapped in the vehicle and the type of vehicle and the position of the vehicle."

While the skills they learn are primarily for saving crash victims, the lives they also might save could be their own.

BOB RYSER, WATHENA FIRE DEPT.: "If these airbags deploy or go off at the wrong time or if you cut into an electrical system that we don't know about, they can be life threatening," said Bob Ryser, with the Wathena Fire Department.

The course was sponsored by St. Joseph's A&B Carstar, where many vehicles involved in wrecks end up.

(SOT: MELISSA MILLER: A&B CARSTAR OF ST. JOSEPH: "For us to see this happening in our shop with the vehicles you see tonight that are crashed up and wrecked up and think somebody was in some of those that are still sitting here," said company spokesperson Melissa Miller. "You don't know how people got our or survived."

For the firefighters and other first responders, they say it's worth risking their own safety to help others who are in dangerous situations.

"You want to be safe but yet you want to do the job that needs to be done," Hurt said. "There's always dangers there. You have to adapt and overcome."

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