Editor’s note: The Abilene Convention and Visitor’s Bureau also contributed information for this story.
Imagine you have been in a car accident. You are bewildered and trapped, but luckily help is on its way with law enforcement and fire fighters rushing to get you out.
In a car crash the safety of those in the crash, efficiency and speed are the most important factors for firemen tasked with the job of getting you out alive.
Earlier this month, the Abilene Fire Department received new extrication tools and on Monday local firefighters held their first training session at a location west of Abilene, where they learned how to use those new tools.
The new tools include rams, cutters, spreaders, struts and lift bags that replaced equipment that was 15 years old, according to Abilene Interim Fire Chief Kale Strunk.
The total cost of the equipment was $66,670.28. Dickinson County contributed $25,000 to the cost and assisted the two other squads in Dickinson County (Herington and Enterprise) with extrication equipment upgrades.
During Monday’s training, the Abilene Fire Department used the equipment for the first time for “real life hands on training for real life scenarios” Strunk said.
“We are training on the operation and capability of the equipment.”
With modern cars becoming more complicated and tougher, the fire department needed equipment to keep up with the times.
The new struts can hold 10,000 pounds each and the hydraulic cutters can cut with up to 296,000 pounds of force. While testing out the struts, Josh Rogers, on-site instructor from Rescue Specialists, actually tackled the car. With the struts in place, it didn’t budge.
Rogers also noted that because the battery operated equipment is quieter, this can decrease people’s panic in situations where being panicked could be fatal.
The push for newer equipment came from the Abilene Fire Department when they realized their older equipment could not handle the newer generation of cars, Struck said.
“The advantage to this is that the three rescue units in Dickinson County will be replacing 15-year-old equipment that no longer serviceable,” Strunk said. “Our current extrication equipment is no longer capable of performing extrication operations on modern vehicles, due to advancements in technology, design, and high tensile steels used to keep passenger compartments safe.”
According to Strunk, the advantage of working together allows uniformity county-wide with the ability to interchange equipment if needed on a large incident, which can save time and possible lives.
The new extrication equipment also allows for reliable service with line tools and flexibility with battery-powered tools for remote areas.
The most useful upgrades include the new battery-powered equipment.
Instead of hauling around tubes for hydraulics, the battery operated equipment has its own pump for increased maneuverability and efficiency for “increased capabilities for remote situations,” Strunk mentioned.
John’s Service provided the wrecked vehicles for the training session.
“Brad Dunlap provided the wrecked vehicles, so we will have hands-on experience with top, side, and wheel resting vehicles, and other scenarios giving us the opportunity to think outside the box,” Strunk said. “This type of training is a great refresher on some things while also allowing us to pick up some new techniques on others.”
The AFD’s new equipment purchase was approved by the Abilene City Commission during its Jan. 25 meeting, using monies from the city’s 2021 Equipment Reserve Fund. The new equipment is made in the USA and has a Lifetime warranty.