Early on Sunday morning, a car left the roadway in Franklin Township, crashed through a brush line and fence, rolled, and wound up on its side with a teenager entrapped. There were no witnesses to the actual accident, until after the sun rose and the car was seen by a nearby resident.
At 7:49am, the West Grove Fire Company was dispatched for an auto accident alone Route 841, south of Flint Hill Road. Almost immediately, a re-dispatch occurred, upgrading the assignment to an accident with entrapment. Initial reports from the Chester County 911 Center were that a car had left the roadway, rolled over, and was in a field with a subject unable to get out.
Ambulance 22-1, Engine 22-1 and -2, Rescue 22 and Medic 94-1 and -2 all responded. Engine 22-1 arrived to report a vehicle on its side, well off the roadway. The accident had occurred on the sharp bend in Route 841, midway between Flint Hill Road and south Old Schoolhouse Road.
Chief 22 arrived and established Chesterville Command. The engine and ambulance crew found a teenage driver unable to get out of the vehicle, which had gone through a brush line of bushes and small trees, across the top rail of a fence, crashed to the ground and rolled multiple times down the hill. Crews had to walk equipment and supplies about 100 yards off the roadway to help the victim.
While the ambulance crews began working to treat the patient, the crews from Engine 22-1 and Rescue 22 began first to stabilize the vehicle so it would no longer move or roll over. Crews used a combination of wood cribbing and stabilization braces (known as Junkyard Dogs) designed to keep a vehicle stable during extrication. After the vehicle was stabilized, WGFC used portable rescue tools (often called the "Jaws of Life") to perform a "roof flap" rescue procedure. This essentially fold away the roof of the vehicle to allow for open access to treat and remove the patient.
With the roof flapped, the patient could then be taken from the vehicle and carried back to the roadway. The patient was transported by WGFC and Medic 94 to the trauma facility at the AI DuPont Hospital in Delaware.
It is not known when the actual accident occurred, but likely many hours before the fire company was dispatched. The car's engine block was cold, and the victim had been in the vehicle for quite some time, so it is likely that the accident could have happened 2-3 hours prior to dispatch.
The WGFC made the investment in technical rescue equipment that facilitated this particular extrication. The company added battery-powered rescue tools for when the Rescue and Engine trucks cannot be near the rescue scene. These powerful cutting and spreading tools are like the traditional hydraulic rescue tools, but operate on battery power. The Junkyard Dog stabilization braces are uniquely suited to keeping a car on its side so it is stable for rescue evolutions.
The fire company routinely practices in the use of these technical tools for this type of vehicle crash with entrapment, which proved valuable as the total extrication time for this call -- from fire department arrival until patient removal -- was only 15 minutes.