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Extrication drill: A potential lifesaver

MINERVA - With a Sawzall, jaws-of-life, pry bars, and lots of patience and expertise, members of the Minerva Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad (MVFD&RS) teamed up with members of the Pottersville Volunteer Fire Department (PVFD) to participate in an extrication drill the evening of Aug. 26 in Minerva.

Drills and training are extremely important in maintaining that "edge" in the world of firefighting and responding to motor vehicle and motorcycle accidents. This drill was no exception.

Led by Second Assistant Chief Travis Howe of the MVFD&RS, the drill involved the extrication of a member of the department who was jammed inside an old car that had been pushed up against a group of trees.

The realism of the motor vehicle accident was enhanced by the twisted position of the "patient" in the car.

The goal of the effort was to have rescue personnel extricate the patient from the vehicle as quickly as possible while maintaining the safety of all rescuers as well as the patient.

Small trees were removed (they were obstacles), the vehicle was stabilized with airbags and blocks, a door was forced open to allow EMS access to the patient for initial examination and support, blankets were placed on both patient and EMS rescuer, and the vehicle roof was carefully removed prior to patient extrication.

Once other rescue personnel could access the patient, a backboard, "collar" and headblocks were used to stabilize the patient, who was then carefully removed from the vehicle.

The drill went smoothly, and the nine members of the MVFD&RS and five members of the PFD who participated had a chance to talk about the process: what went right and what could have gone better. It's all about preparation and the coordination and communication of the two departments was tested, with positive results.

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