Eldridge Firefighters Train for Extrication - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Eldridge Firefighters Train for Extrication

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We've seen them run into burning buildings and save lives in medical emergencies. But firefighters are also the ones we call for other jobs, when we don't know where else to turn. And they typically have the tools to get those jobs done.

We see it too often at car accidents, when in just one moment your entire world can turn upside down. That's when these volunteers go to work, cracking windows, cutting metal and opening up door frames. On average, Eldridge firefighters tell us they have an extrication every couple of months. Lt. Keith Schneckloth says, "Winter months, with the weather conditions and roads being slippery, we tend to have a few more extrications."

And crews say each one has its own unknowns.  "We've gone to vehicles where they're already out of the vehicles," Pat Gainer tells us. "And sometimes a little surprise when you get down on your hands and knees and there's still somebody in it."

Extrication is tough, Joe Collins says. "It's a lot of work, and you've got a lot of things to keep in mind. And it's real tough work sometimes." A spreader can weigh 45 pounds, but will feel like much more, and it's tough to maneuver. Schneckloth says, "The tool has a mind of its own, it's gonna go where it wants."

That's why crews train as often as they can, just not always as often as they'd like. Some, never touching these tools before this night. Gainer says, "With a lot of the regulations, fluids and stuff, we can't just go cut vehicles apart, even if they're donated to us." When it all works, it's important to learn to work on different types of cars. Electric and hybrids can have hidden dangers, like high voltage batteries in places you might not expect. "Take your time and think it through," Schneckloth tells volunteers. "Your safety is the most important."

So is the safety of the person inside. In this training scenario and real life situations, firefighters will climb inside cars to calm drivers. "There's a lot of things popping and cracking," Gainer says. "That's why it's important for the personnel, for example, when I was holding c-spine, to be talking to the patient, letting them know what's happening, if they're conscious and aware, so they can say, okay I know I'm being taken care of."

That's the goal. All this training, so crews can get the person trapped inside a car, out. "It's satisfying to know that you got the patient out as fast as you could, as safe as you could," Schneckloth says, "And everybody's gonna go home safe and happy."

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