PLATTSMOUTH – Firefighters had to use the Jaws of Life to reach the driver involved in a serious car accident.
Once inside, a firefighter held the driver’s head straight to prevent damage to the spinal cord.
Eventually, firefighters had to saw off the car’s roof and move the dashboard off the driver to remove him safely onto a stretcher to the waiting ambulance.
All the while, other firefighters were standing nearby with water hoses ready to extinguish any blaze that might erupt.
Fortunately, this wasn’t a real accident, but a demonstration on what the Plattsmouth Volunteer Fire Department is trained to do in real-life situations.
This tactical demonstration was part of last Saturday’s activities during the annual Plattsmouth Harvest Festival.
The firefighters went through the different measures to save lives in a worst-case scenario, according to Fire Chief Mike Wilson.
“All the different things we can do with the equipment we have,” he said.
The demonstration began with firefighters using the Jaws of Life to reach the injured driver, played by one of the firefighters, while another firefighter sat in the back keeping the driver’s head straight and placing a protective collar around the neck.
“It’s making sure the driver isn’t moving the head up or down or sideways,” Wilson said.
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Whenever the Jaws of Life are used, firefighters are at the ready with water hoses or fire extinguishers should sparks from the equipment ignite a fire, Wilson said.
During the demonstration, 4x4 wood blocks were placed underneath the vehicle to shore up the bottom.
“It’s to secure the vehicle so that it doesn’t roll,” Wilson said.
Protective measures were put over sharp metal edges to avoid injuries, he added.
Though it may not always be necessary in some car accidents, the firefighters nonetheless removed the roof and moved the steering wheel and dashboard away from the driver to demonstrate their training in those areas.
Finally, the driver was carefully removed from the vehicle, placed on a stretcher and taken to a nearby ambulance.
Normally, according to Wilson, it only takes about 12 to 18 minutes for his firefighters to remove an injured person from a vehicle.
“We’re usually pretty quick in having people out,” he said.
The fire department performed this demonstration in place of water fights between firefighters because of the water emergency that was ordered earlier this year by city officials in dealing with the historic spring floods.
“I heard a lot of great things about the tactical demonstration by the fire and rescue squad,” said Rachel Parsons, president of the Korn Klub that oversees the festival. “People were disappointed we couldn’t have the water fights, but the board and I were thankful that they could still be involved in our festivities.”