With a new set of tools at their disposal, Vernon firefighters now have the means to make swifter and safer rescue operations.
Vernon Fire Rescue Services (VFRS) has received newly purchased auto extrication gear as well as a tire attachment for its basket stretchers. Both sets of equipment ease the task of safely completing rescue calls in remote locations.
The extrication kit includes battery-powered hydraulic jaws—one for cutting through metal, another for spreading it apart, and combi tool that combines both functions.
Vernon city council budgeted $50,000 for the new equipment. While the cost of the four extrication tools was roughly $60,000, a donation of more than $12,500 from the Vernon Four Seasons Kiwanis Club helped equip VFRS with the full kit.
Before the arrival of the new tools, getting into vehicles involved setting up a power plant and stretching out range-restricting hydraulic hoses.
By contrast, the new tools are compact, highly mobile and feature built-in hydraulics.
Thanks to Vernon firefighter Bryan Carter for demonstrating the speed and simplicity of the new auto extrication tools at VFRS! pic.twitter.com/FqzoQ1aWoS
— Vernon Morning Star (@VernonNews) July 9, 2020
“It really is a game-changer for us as far as deployment,” said Deputy Chief Dwight Seymour.
“We can get into a lot more different spaces (and) we have longer access. If we’re going down an embankment for example, we don’t have to bring down a power plant plus the hydraulic lines. It’s as simple as grabbing the tool and it goes wherever we go.”
The tools have already saved time during recent calls, as firefighters Bryan Carter and Brad Crawford explained at the fire hall Thursday.
One incident in late June saw a driver crash into a house along Palmer Road in Vernon.
“The passenger door wouldn’t open so we just pulled the door off from the hinge side,” said Carter. “I was holding the door and we cut it off from the hinge side and then pulled it off. It worked perfectly.”
Crawford recalled an incident that took place before the new tools arrived.
“We had a rescue we had to do where a car hit a semi and ended up about 30 feet down a bank, so (we) have to take the power plant and lines down with us … whereas with these ones you pick it up, turn it on and you’re running already.”
For rescue calls that take responders into the winding hiking and cycling trails in the local area, another tool has arrived at VFRS thanks to firefighter Mike Stoll.
“Basically it’s a mountain bike tire fitted to a frame that we can attach to our basket stretchers, just to make it easier to get the stretcher, person and the equipment in and out of remote locations,” Stoll said.
The $1,800 basket stretcher can be set up and attached to the tire in minutes, and has a hand brake to give firefighters more control on steeper sections of trail. The wheeled stretcher is tall and narrow—perfect for manoeuvring through trails such as the ones found in Ellison Provincial Park, where the tool was utilized in the rescue of an injured hiker early last month.
“In all, it’s safety for our responders as far as their lifting and the control that they have, but also a lot smoother and safer ride for the patient,” DC Seymour said.