Well, actually the Fire Department of Eagle River and the Metro District, to the rescue... but Trinity to help in their training.
As a way for Trinity Recycling to give back to the community, they gather junk cars from around Eagle River and let the Fire Department tear them apart.
Trinity buys junk cars for $250 and sets them up in their junk yard as a space where the fire department can come and train for Motor Vehicle Accidents or MVAs. Trinity receives roughly 15 junk cars a month so can pick and chose which ones are best suited for the department. The employees have a good time with it too. Tossing cars on their sides, on their tops, or pinned against one another, as different scenarios would present themselves in real time.
On this Colorado bluebird day the Beaver Creek & Metro District fire department set up their tarp and equipment and prepared for training.
They decided to start with the white Toyota who had flipped on their top. Goss, one of the firemen, guessed Eagle River district receives about one roll over mitigation a month. Stating it was important to have training on these vehicles because of the rarity. Usually a passing vehicle witnesses or comes upon this kind of MVA and calls 911 to report it. Because of the uncertainty of the safety of the victims inside the car the call center sends two fire trucks, one ambulance and a few police cars.
One lane of traffic is blocked off by police and a truck to stage a safety zone. Then, the first responders assess the situation and make a plan. In our case today- one driver, no passengers, slid off the road, smashed their front end, flipped in to the median, and landed on it's top. The driver is pinned under the dashboard, disoriented but alert.
Goss explained to me that, when [they] come upon this scenario our first thoughts are to check the surroundings for safety; is the vehicle approachable, are there flames or gas leaks, is the engine still running or is the battery cut. Can we try to open the windows or doors before we have to pry them, and of course if we can communicate with the individual inside.
In this scenario the victim is communicating with the first responders and can tell them he cannot free his legs from under the dash and is in a lot of pain. "We like to get inside the vehicle, with the patient, if we can, admitted Goss, so we can first get eyes on them, and also be there for support and explanation, that- this is what we are trying to do, this is what you can expect, and these are the noises you are hearing.
They were all eager to play with the extrication power tools, the cutter and the spreader- or as we know it- the jaws of life. Pilecki and Romsdahl set up stabilization with the Rescue 42 so the vehicle wouldn't turn, spin or sway on its top. They broke the side door windows, assessed the vehicle for air bags to be aware of their deployment, and safety restraints that could be impeding movement, then pried open the back door.
This scenario reminded them of a previous mitigation where someone was trapped in the driver side and they were struggling to remove the patient from the seat. So, they practiced how it would look to sever the seat and potentially help remove the patient out that way. They continued to remove the other door and then use the jaws of life to reduce pressure from the dash off the invisible patient. Ryan led discussion on what went well and what they could do differently. And then decided that their next task was to open the doors of a truck quickly, as they would in a real life scenario.
Thank you to the BC FD for your willing cooperation with this interview and observation.
The Eagle River Fire Department is an all hazards, all seasons FD so keeping their training up to date on all aspects of the job is crucial. Having access to junk vehicles so the team can run through scenarios and get hands on experience with the extrication tools is priceless. Trinity is more than happy to give back to the community in this way by providing space that is necessary for hazard training.
Do you have a junk vehicle?
Give Trinity a call today!