Another fascinating demonstration at the Writers Police Academy was watching a team of firefighters “rescue” an imaginary patient trapped in the back of a vehicle. For safety reasons, they wouldn’t let any of us volunteer!
In a real-life situation, the firefighters would cover the patient with a blanket to protect him/her from glass fragments. They would also have one firefighter inside with him/her, trying to keep things calm.
There are a LOT of precautions taken, and for the firefighters, the patient is priority #1. One of the first things they deal with is setting off the airbags if they haven’t already detonated.
There are heavy-duty explosives in there—think rocket fuel, and the last thing the firefighters want is ignition. There are 2 stage airbags; the first goes ‘poof’ and the second goes ‘bang.’ It’s not always easy to tell which is which, and in our demo, we got the ‘bang’ first. Airbags are high on the list of things to steal—an airbag and actuator sell for about $800.
Then they’ll stabilize the car using step chocks, and disconnect the battery before working on the patient. They don’t want any surprises. Hybrid cars are very quiet, and the firefighters must confirm they’re actually off.
They have tools for breaking windows, and taking out the glass.
They use cutters, spreaders, and rams to disassemble the vehicle. Modern metals are stronger and more brittle. The cutters don’t really “cut”—they squeeze. If a patient is in the front seat and trapped behind the dash, a ram is used to move the dash up and off the patient. Usually 3 inches is enough.
This was a special one-time-only demo, for obvious reasons!
Tomorrow, my guest is Karla Brandenburg who’s talking about research so you can write what you know. She’s been “on location” for her latest book.