Emergency responders from West Grove Fire Company used the "jaws of life" to remove trapped victims of a car crash early Saturday morning in Franklin Township.
WGFC pagers were alerted to the crash on South Guernsey Road, near Hillcrest Drive. The dispatch at 2:08am was for West Grove Fire Company and paramedics from Medic 94. Reports to the Chester County 911 Center had a car on its side, with a barely conscious victim. Responding from WGFC were two ambulances, Engine 22-1, Rescue 22, Engine 22-3 and two Medic 94 units.
First arriving units found a Subaru station wagon on its side. The vehicle had apparently left the roadway striking a large tree stump and rolling onto its side. There were at least four victims in the car, with two managing to get out on their own. Two persons remained trapped in the car -- one in the front seat and one in the back seat.
Crews from the Ambulances began evaluating patients, including the more seriously injured victim in the back seat. Meanwhile, firefighters on Engine 22-1 began to stabilize the vehicle using wood cribbing and mechanical struts. The struts are used on vehicles on their sides to assure the car won't rock back onto its wheels or roof during emergency operations. After evaluating the patient's condition, firefighters made the decision to "flap the roof," a rescue operation that uses hydraulic rescue tools to cut the roof away from the car, allowing easier access to treat and remove patients.
With the arrival of Rescue 22 and Engine 22-3, additional rescue tools were assembled at the crash site, and crews used specialized hand tools to remove the windshield. This allowed the first victim to be removed from the front seat. Using rescue tools, the crews began cutting the A, B, and C posts that secure the roof to the sides of the vehicle -- these are the vertical posts that are on on each side of the doors and the front and rear windows. For this rescue, WGFC firefighters were able to use new battery-powered rescue cutters -- these "jaws of life" tools provide flexibility to move around the vehicle and don't need to be tethered to portable or fire-truck mounted hydraulic power sources.
With WGFC EMS providing patient care, the crew made the many cuts required, and pulled the roof of the car down to the roadway, opening up and exposing the full interior of the vehicle. The second patient was then removed via a longboard to be placed into the ambulance, and ultimately transported to Christiana Hospital via WGFC ambulance and Medic 94. The other ambulance crews evaluated all others involved in the accident, although no additional patients were transported from the scene.
WGFC crews secured all the rescue tools and equipment and returned them to service on the three fire trucks on scene. This rescue evolution went quickly and smoothly, as the WGFC crews regularly train on the use of rescue tools and evolutions like the use of mechanical struts and roof flaps. Crews were on scene for approximately one hour. WGFC Fire Police handled road closures throughout the rescue operation.