• Extrication

    Vehicle extrication is the process of removing a vehicle from around a person who has been involved in a motor vehicle accident, when conventional means of exit are impossible or inadvisable. A delicate approach is needed to minimize injury to the victim during the extrication. This operation is typically accomplished by using chocks and bracing for stabilization and hydraulic tools, including the Jaws of Life.

  • Tools and Equipment

    Rescue personnel use a number of tools to extricate victims. There are two main types:

    • Hydraulic — Rescue tools powered by a hydraulic pump. The pump may be powered by hand, an electric motor or a gasoline engine. They may be portable or mounted to a vehicle. There are 4 basic types of hydraulic rescue tools. They are spreaders, shears, combination spreader/shears and extension rams.
    • Pneumatic — Rescue tools are powered by pressurized air. The pressurized air is sourced from SCBA cylinder, vehicle mounted cascade systems or vehicle mounted air compressors. Whizzer Saws and Air Chisels are examples of pneumatic-powered tools.

    The first step in an extrication is to stabilize the vehicle to prevent aggravating the injuries of the entrapped and to protect rescue workers. This is done by using stabilization tools:

    • Hydraulic and Nonhydraulic Jacks — Designed to lift the vehicle so cribbing can be placed. A vehicle must never be supported by just a jack and must be supported by cribbing. One inch of cribbing must be placed for every inch the jack lifts.
    • Buttress Tension System — A buttress tension system is used to stabilize a vehicle resting on its side or top. It may consist of a minimum of three 4 x 4 inch posts wedged between the vehicle and the ground, or it may be a system composed of metal rods and straps. The exact placement varies by the condition and weight of the vehicle as well as what the vehicle is resting on.
    • Wheel Chock — Wheel chocks are used to stabilize vehicles resting on their wheels. They can support vehicles of a 10 to 15 percent grade. They are commonly constructed of aluminium, hard rubber, wood, or urethane plastic.
    • Cribbing — Cribbing consist of wood or plastic blocks that are made in a variety of shapes and sizes.
    • Pneumatic Lifting Bag — Pneumatic lifting bags are air-pressurized devices that lift objects. They come in three basic types: high-pressure, medium-pressure and low-pressure. They are usually made with a rubber exterior reinforced with steel wire or Kevlar. When deflated they are about one inch thick.
    • Winch — Winches are mounted on vehicles and are typically faster, stronger and have a greater pulling distance than other pulling devices. They are used in conjunction with chains or cables.