Wes Duey works on a vehicle after a simulated crash traps a driver. Duey was participating in a workshop to learn what to do to extricate drivers and passengers from complicated collisions.

When two semitrailers collide, like the two that closed the westbound lane of Interstate 70 in Geary County on Friday, the fire department gets called in to rescue drivers and passengers.

Those type of crashes require an advanced rescue.

After a daylong training in 104 degree temperatures Saturday, the Abilene Fire Department is now better prepared for such extreme crashes.

“It’s more of an advanced training than you see on a daily basis,” said Abilene Fire Chief Bob Sims. “All of our guys know now to do simple extrication, popping doors, raising the hood, cutting the roof off. This is the stuff we don’t do everyday.”

Two fire rescue officials with the Salina Fire Department passed on their knowledge of advanced vehicle extrication to Abilene firefighters.

Advanced vehicle extrication is the process of removing a vehicle from around a person who has been involved in a motor vehicle collision when conventional means of exit are impossible or inadvisable.

“Any cars upside down, any heavy trucks, tractors, school buses, any heavy machinery entrapment, those all fall under the advanced category,” said Captain Keith Lindemann, Salina Fire Department.

Lindemann has worked with the Abilene Fire Department in the past on simple extrication. Saturday was an advanced drill of “real world” crashes.

“It’s way different than the normal,” he said. “We have to stabilize the heavy vehicle up to 80,000 pounds. We have to use certain tools and equipment to make it safe before we ever start working on the car.”

The lessons took place west of Abilene at John’s Wrecker location.

Common semitrailer-vehicle crashes often involve an underride, Lindemann said.

“They run into the back. They go completely underneath,” he said.

Sims said that type of crash is pretty common along Interstate 70 and Kansas Highway 15.

“A semi will be parked along the side of the road and a car rear-ends it. We’ve had that scenario before,” Sims said.

Lindemann said that with the extreme heat, the firefighter crew of 16 are rotated. The members of the Community Emergency Response Team also took part in the drills.

“We split up into different crews and try to get them rehydrated,” he said.

Lindemann went to Atlanta for instruction on using advanced techniques from instructors and students worldwide and is passing those techniques onto other firefighting units.

Contact Tim Horan at

Contact Tim Horan at

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