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Posts tagged ‘jaws of life’

A to Z: X is for eXtrication


Extrication in the fire service most often means vehicle extrication. This is the means of removing a vehicle or part of a vehicle from around a person when conventional means of exiting are impossible or inadvisable. Or, rather, getting a person out of a vehicle when they can’t or shouldn’t open the door and step out.

‘ Einsatz des Spreizers, Schaffen einer Arbeitsöffnung am Türschloss ”’en:”’ ”’photographer:”’ Magnus Mertens ”’place:”’ Goettingen, Germany ”’date:”’ September 2005

After an accident scene has been marked off and protected from a potential fire situation(shutting off the ignition and such to keep from igniting any possible spilled fuel), the patient will need to be assessed to determine how to get them out. The vehicle needs to be secured as any movement could cause more trauma to a victim, not to mention posing a danger to the rescue workers. A window may be removed to allow a first responder to get inside to better assess the victim and also ease any pressure on the victim. Then, usually, a door or the roof will be cut or pulled away to safely remove the victim, and be able to protect the head, neck, and back.

Road accident in Belgium — casualty extraction with a long spine board Auteur/author : Olivier Goldberg, 24 février 2006 [http://www.anesthe-site.be/b

The main extrication tool used is the Hurst tool, or Jaws of Life. Some departments may only have this on hand, and after popping the door off, the rescue workers can get the patient out. Or they may have a more dedicated heavy rescue team who can come in with more equipment when it is needed. Extrication isn’t just the action of getting the door out, though. It starts with fire protection and isn’t finished until the patient is transferred to an ambulance, or at least away from the scene if they were merely trapped and not injured.


A to Z: J is for Jaws of Life


The Hurst tool, also known as the Jaws of Life, is a hydraulic rescue tool most often used during vehicle extrication. It’s actually a whole line of hydraulic rescue tools, including cutters, spreaders, and rams.

The cutter is a pair of hydraulically powered shears, designed to cut through metal. These are most often used to cut through the structure of a vehicle when it’s the only way to get someone out.

By Daniel Schwen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Spreaders have two arms that come together in a narrow tip. This is placed between two panels(such as two doors or a car door and fender) and when the arms are opened, it pushes the panels apart. It can also be used to pop vehicle doors off their hinges.

By Daniel Schwen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

There are also tools that combine both of these tools into one. Instead of having to carry two separate tools, one will do the job.

The Green Cross award is a way to award those who have used these products to help save a life. Each of these is recorded in the official Green Cross Registry. My husband has received this award a couple times.


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