When an emergency arises, every second of every minute counts. Emergency responders train on a regular basis to prepare for any situation and keep their skills sharp. As training is vitally important to a first responder and our community, equally important are the tools and equipment that are used to properly work an emergency scene to save life and property.
The Big Walnut Joint Fire District is located in southern Morrow County serving the residents of Bennington, Harmony and Chester Townships along with the villages of Marengo and Chesterville. The department covers 75 square miles including 12 miles of I-71. With its 29 members, 6 trucks between the 2 fire stations, fire calls average over 350 a year with the majority of those being auto accidents. In 2014, BWJFD responded to 68 auto accidents with 6 of those incidents requiring firefighters to use the “jaws of life”, aka rescue tools.
Until recently, BWJFD has been working with the hydraulic operated rescue tools that were purchased nearly 35 years ago. These tools have to be used on automobiles, large trucks, farm machinery and heavy equipment accidents. As a result to the old and outdated tools that did not work as efficiently as we needed them to, rescuing our victims from the wreckage and getting them the medical attention they need were not as quick as we preferred it. Firefighters have had issues with the heavy tools and old high pressure hydraulic oil filled hoses not working properly and occasionally stop working altogether while attempting a rescue operation. These tools became a too much of a risk to our patients and rescue personnel.
This past May, BWJFD Fire Captain Ben Lovell wrote a grant proposal requesting the funds from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to purchase new battery pack operated Hurst Electro-hydraulics rescue tools from Finley Fire Equipment. The Electro-hydraulic tools alleviate the trip hazards that hydraulic hoses cause, more ergonomically useful to reduce the risk of injury to firefighters and more maneuverable to get better position to cut the patient free from the wreckage. His request included, two rescue rams, one Edraulic cutter, one Edraulic rescue spreader, one combination package with power adapter and one Edraulic ram attachment. In June, BWC granted BWJFD the requested $35,589 funds to purchase the new battery operated equipment. The new tools were put in service and on the apparatus, after all fire personnel were trained on the tools, in early October.
These battery operated tools are new to the fire service and have not been used by many rescuers. Some BWJFD firefighters were skeptical of the battery operated units with ligament concerns on the cutting power, spreading power, durability and life of the battery operated tools. On a Tuesday evening in September, members gathered at the firehouse in Marengo for a training session on operating the newly purchased tools, the tones go off for a two car motor vehicle accident at the intersection of County Road 19 and State Route 229, mutual aid with Central Ohio Joint Fire District, with serious injuries and two patients entrapped in one vehicle. Firefighters did not hesitate to grab the new rescue tools and throw them on the truck to use at the incident. Upon arrival, we found one sedan vehicle had been impacted on the passenger side by a larger SUV leaving two patients trapped in the sedan. BWJFD firefighters jumped into action by removing the SUV from the passenger side and began cutting on the sedan. The driver of the sedan was removed immediately. Crews then worked diligently to remove the passenger of the sedan by stabilizing the vehicle, remove the doors, then the roof to gain access to the seriously injured patient, lifted the dash off the patient and then removed the patient to deliver them to EMS personnel for medical care. An incident that would normally have taken about 30-40 minutes to accomplish with the 35 year old tools, was accomplished in less than 15 minutes with the new tools. The new tools did not lose cutting or spreading power and worked to perfection. Those once skeptical firefighters, were assured of the quality and capabilities of the tools.
In comparison, the 35-year-old tools last service test showed the hydraulic cutters operating with a cutting force of 2,000 psi vs. the cutting force of the new Edraulic tools cutting force of 10,000 psi. The older tools would sometimes require two firefighters to use the tools vs. the Edraulic tools are easily can be operated by one firefighter thus allowing the other rescuer to be doing another duty. The purchase of the new rescue tools allow for a reduction in the risk of injury to firefighters and patients, quicker and more efficient access to the injured patients that results in quicker medical treatment.
The Big Walnut Joint Fire District would like to express our sincerest appreciation to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation for the grant and making the purchase of the new rescue tools possible.
For more information about the Big Walnut Joint Fire District, visit our website at www.bwjfd.org and “Like” us on Facebook.