NT Fire and Rescue Crews average one road crash rescue a week in the Northern Territory where an injured person is trapped inside the vehicle.
Ironically, advancements in car safety, including air bags and strengthened steel side and roof panels designed to protect the passengers have made it more difficult for first responders after a crash.
Acting Station Officer Anthony Miles, Northern Territory Fire and Rescue Service Transportation Rescue Officer said newer cars have presented a challenge when trying to free an injured person.
“Getting medical assistance to an injured person is a priority for every Officer at a crash scene.
“The reinforced steel and air bags that have not deployed during the crash are just two of the changes emergency responders have had to adapt to and train for to better understand how these new cars are constructed and how to overcome these changes.”
A Road Crash Rescue awareness session was held recently at the Berrimah Fire Station Special Operations Building involving members from the NTFRS, Northern Territory Emergency Service and Police.
The session was designed to familiarise responders with how to best combat changes in car technology so emergency aid can be delivered.
Facilitating in the course was Mr Franz Linner from Austria, a thirty year veteran of road crash rescue, both as a Firefighter and instructor.
“As technology improves so must the Firefighter adapt and learn ways to overcome these challenges.” Mr Linner said.
“Training with the right equipment and understanding this new technology will save lives so rescue personnel must learn new techniques and be innovative.”
“The trial of the battery operated equipment worked very well in this exercise.” ASO Miles said.
NTFRS will have a full set of battery operated gear on the new Berrimah based appliance in the near future.
During the exercise participants were introduced to a range of practical new skills to overcome strengthened car design.
In the past, cutting the roof off the vehicle had been the first choice for emergency extraction of a victim, now the first responders are being trained in alternate techniques to achieve the same outcome without having to cut through three or six columns of ultra high strength steel.
“Participants were instructed in the process of cross ramming where the vehicle damage is pushed away from the victim, freeing up space for medical intervention.” ASO Miles said.
“Another technique is called tunnelling where crews gain access to a victim through the boot or rear window.
“Tunnelling is especially handy where doors are not accessible or the vehicle is upside down, crushing all other means of entry.
“The major difference in these techniques is we are using spreaders rather than cutters to gain access.
“Once inside, the hydraulic ram is utilised to push away damaged panels to improve available space.”
ASO Miles said the training also gave crews an opportunity to discuss road crash rescue advancement in other jurisdictions and to improve their own skills.
“Little things like going through a door from the top down to pop rivets at the hinges rather than coming in from the side and popping the door open from the lock.
“This reduces the risk of side airbags that have possibly not deployed during the crash, injuring rescue crews should they deploy during an attempted extraction.
“NTFRS and NTES Members on this course have learned some valuable new skills today and will become trainers for other units, including our Fire and Emergency Response Group Volunteers (FERG) who are required to respond to road trauma incidents.
“Getting medial attention to an injured person is a core responsibility so every new skill, every improvement in equipment and techniques and every addition to our knowledge can help save a life.
“Nothing can be more rewarding than that.”