ALBERT LEA, MN — Despite their name, firefighters do a lot more than put out fires. They are first responders so they are called to the scene of all kinds of emergencies including car crashes where someone is trapped. It takes a lot of training to be ready to answer the call.
Thursday firefighters in Albert Lea got some valuable experience.
When it comes to getting someone out of a wrecked car it takes more than just a fire hose.
“Using the jaws of life to get that door open and using the shears to cut the hinges off stuff and being able to get the doors and other things away from the car so we can easily get the victim out,” said Jordan Devries of the Albert Lea Fire Department.
The opportunity for training like this does not come too often for the fire department. Devries has done it a few times now, but he is still learning more and more each time.
“Learning a lot, just the basic stuff and how to stabilize a car, the basic operations of how to cut a victim that is trapped inside a car. All different angles, all different situations,” Devries said.
They do scenarios like this so that they can think while they are practicing and it is muscle memory by the time the scenario gets real.
“It’s got to be first nature, just hop off the truck, grab the equipment and get to it. I mean, you can’t think about it at all, it’s got to be right away,” Devries said.
While it is important to train until it is habit, like its name says, it is also a good time to practice new things.
“Maybe just try some new ideas, see what works and see what doesn’t and this is the time to talk about what we’re doing and as a group we understand what the other one’s thinking at that time,” said Captain Mark Light of the Albert Lea Fire Department.
Because when someone is stuck in a smashed up car, there is not much time to think.
“It’s really easy to take a car apart that’s nice and straight and square and nothing’s bent. Sometimes it’s a lot bigger challenge to get into one that’s smashed up,” Light said.
No matter how smashed up the car is, they aim to get the people out as fast as possible.
“Our goal is no more than ten minutes. Some of them take far longer than that, believe me,” Light said.
In some situations people are stuck in a car that is on fire. Light said that although every situation is different, their top priority is usually putting the fire out before getting the people out in those situations.