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Local Fire and EMS Departments Practice Vehicle Extraction

By Oliver Huang | July 12, 2022

Last year, New Jersey saw the highest number of traffic accidents since 2007, and Montgomery was no exception. In March, a Montgomery High School graduate tragically died after a car crashed into a tree. In May, three teens were involved in a crash on Montgomery Road, and, in another incident in May, a car overturned on Route 206.

Firefighter Sandra Quirinale from Station 46 attaches chains to the overturned vehicle.

With so many vehicle accidents, writing an article on the recent joint drill with Montgomery’s EMS, Montgomery’s Station 45 and 46, and Rocky Hill’s Fire Station 53 at the Station 46 firehouse on vehicle extrications seems to come at a relevant time. During a vehicle extrication, a first responder actually removes pieces of the motor vehicle from around a passenger after a collision — when the standard ways of exiting a car are impossible or inadvisable.

The joint drill had two parts. In the first part, rescue firefighters worked together to help remove a passenger from the overturned cars. After removing the passenger from the car, EMTs worked on trying to medically care for the “injured passengers.” To make the scene as realistic as possible, the participants in the drill did a “rolling response.”

In a rolling response, emergency services were dispatched and “drove to the scene” from the front of the firehouse to the back, where the vehicle accident was staged. While the entire scenario took around two hours to practice, clean up, and debrief, there was a lot of time spent behind the scenes preparing for the drill.

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Acquiring cars to perform the drill required coordination beforehand. “We basically put [a] request in a couple of weeks in advance [to a towing company] saying, ‘Hey, can you guys drop off two cars for us?’” says Chief Adam Verducci of Montgomery’s Fire Department Station 46. After getting the cars, the fire department uses a skid-steer loader to get the cars in position.

Coming up to the drill, the fire department also spent two weekday nights practicing their vehicle extrication skills before they got on to the scene. “Our first drill night was kind of an overview like a basics. We’re going to review the equipment we have, we’re going to review some skills and go from there, and then the second Wednesday we built upon that. It was more about advanced skills,” adds Chief Verducci.

Firefighters from Rocky Hill and Montgomery Township stabilize the overturned vehicle to prevent it from rolling further.

Doing the drill together with other partners helps emergency departments learn to coordinate with each other. “We don’t get to pick who we’re working with when we’re on scene,” explains Chief Gerschel of the Montgomery EMS squad. “The more we can be familiar with each other, even just face to face names…when we’re on scene and you’re actually trying to provide patient care it’s gonna go that much smoother,” adds Chief Verducci.

This isn’t the first time the Montgomery and Rocky Hill fire departments have worked together with EMS. “We’re in May and I would say this is our second or third time drilling with them on a car education this year,” says Chief Gerschel. Even though there were many different emergency services on scene, the drill had a moderate size in order to give everyone hands-on experience in extrication. “What we noticed with that is that you have a lot of people there, but not everyone is getting their you know hands on experience, and it doesn’t translate well into real life or real world experiences,” notes Chief Gerschel.

Verducci ultimately sees the drills as a great way for Montgomery emergency services to work together. “The feedback I’ve gotten from my guys is really good that everybody really enjoys working with the other agencies and practicing with the other agencies. It builds a lot of camaraderie amongst everyone, not only within the agency, but everybody getting to know and to work with other volunteers around the township,” he adds on.


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