Carolina FD gets ‘Jaws of Life’

Published 2:47 am Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Carolina Fire Department became the 15th department in the county to have extrication equipment this week.

On Monday night, some of the fire fighters received training in how to use the tools they purchased.

Fire Chief David Fite said they purchased the used equipment through help from the community.

Brandon Holland of the county volunteer fire association said that at one point, there were only two fire departments in the county who had extrication equipment.

Over the last decade, that number has grown to the 14, including the airport fire department.

“Fire departments are getting more involved with extrication and medical,” Holland said. “That’s the national trend.”

Holland said there have been challenges for volunteer departments because of lack of personnel and their main goal being to fight fires on a limited budget.

The Carolina department purchased a hydraulic spreader, cutter and ram, also known as the Jaws of Life.

Holland explained that the spreader is designed for spreading. It has two arms that come together with a narrow tip, and hydraulic pressure is used to separate and spread the arms. Emergency responders use the tip of the tool by inserting it into a narrow gap between two vehicle panels. They also use them to pop vehicle doors from their hinges.

Cutters or shears, Holland said, are just like large scissors. They are used to cut through a vehicle’s structure in an extraction operation.

Finally, the rams are designed for pushing.

Jeff McVay was on hand for training on Monday night.

He focused on using the tools safely and taught the department about cribbing, which is used to transfer weight of a load into a footprint and provide temporary support during rescue missions.

Cribbing keeps the car from moving as much when using the tools and helps prevent further injury to the person in the car.

McVay also taught them about the importance of a purchase point and glass management and other important pieces to safely rescuing someone from a car accident.

Holland said the other departments who have extrication tools are Andalusia, River Falls, Hopewell, Red Level, Gantt, Heath, Wing, Babbie, Red Oak, Airport Fire, Onycha, Rose Hill, Opp and Florala.

Additionally, Antioch is looking into getting the equipment.

There are 21 fire departments in the county plus the airport fire department.

Only Libertyville, Dixie, Lockhart, Loango, Union Grove, Buck Creek and Sanford do not have the tools.