DOOR-REMOVAL TECHNIQUE FOR USE AT VEHICLE EXTRICATIONS

DOOR-REMOVAL TECHNIQUE FOR USE AT VEHICLE EXTRICATIONS

DAVID SWEET

Vehicle extrication tactics are constantly changing. New techniques and tools to help simplify our job as rescuers are being developed every day. Yet, most departments don`t take advantage of the technology. Training for extrication operations often is not held in as high esteem as training for fire or EMS.

Vehicle extrication training should be conducted every two or three months. The new materials installed in vehicles each year–such as multiple air bags, reinforced steel frames, and composite panels–demand new training and techniques that can be eye-openers for departments that think extrication involves simply popping a door. The training should be as realistic as possible. Ask your local junkyard for vehicles that are already damaged. If none are available, borrow a front-end loader from your public works department, which may even be more than willing to come over and smash a few vehicles for you. The point is that it`s a waste of time to practice extrication techniques on a perfectly good vehicle because that`s not the scenario firefighters encounter on the streets.

REMOVING A TWO-DOOR ASSEMBLY FROM A FOUR-DOOR VEHICLE

The Department of Transportation estimates that 50 percent of vehicle accidents are of the side-impact type. Gaining victim access after this type of impact usually requires an involved and time-consuming process. Properly using the following technique to remove a two-door assembly from a four-door car could cut down extrication time dramatically.

•Stabilize the scene, the vehicle, and the victim.

•Remove all the vehicle glass.

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•With spreaders, perform a vertical spread (or use another technique) on the rear door to release it from the Nader pin.

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•With a halligan bar, remove the plastic molding on the bottom half of the B-post to expose the seatbelt mechanism.

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Once the mechanism is exposed,

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place cutters just underneath it and make the deepest cut possible through the post.

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•Cut through the top of the B-post.

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•Put some cribbing just underneath and behind the B-post column to prevent the rocker panel from collapsing.

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•Use spreaders to angle the tips, placing them on the bottom hinge of the rear door and the rocker panel.

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Start to spread the rear door. You may have to adjust the angle or leverage to get the most beneficial spread.

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Once you begin spreading, the entire B-post should start to rip away from the location at which it is attached to the rocker panel, taking with it the rear door and front door as.

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The technique is complete.

You might find that the entire rocker panel will tear instead of the B-post`s separating from it. This can happen with unibody construction. When making your initial spread, stop to see if the rocker panel is tearing. You may have to use cutters to make a deeper cut, or you can just cut the entire post out, depending on access and the tool`s best angle. Since these things can happen and no two cars are alike, always have a Plan B ready.

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Having another rescuer remove the roof with a sawzall or another cutter while you perform the above procedure provides access to the victim within minutes. With practice, this technique can be mastered in no time.

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Front-end loader smashes vehicle to simulate a side-impact type of accident.

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Step cribbing is used to stabilize vehicle.

DAVID SWEET is a fire lieutenant in the City of North Lauderdale (FL) Fire/Rescue Department, where he has served for 14 years. He has been department fire training officer for the past nine years and is a state-certified paramedic. He is an instructor at the Broward Fire Academy, where he is developing a 40-hour advanced extrication course.

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