Hudson -- At the Hudson Fire Department open house Oct. 6, a demonstration using the "jaws of life" illustrated a problem with the department's aging equipment: it takes too much time to cut the heavier steel in newer vehicles with older tools.
Hudson Fire Department is requesting $40,000 to purchase two complete hydraulic extrication systems -- one for the Heavy Rescue Truck and the other for use on the Aerial Truck to rescue people trapped inside a vehicle. Council could vote on the resolution Nov. 6.
Chief Jerry Varnes said the fire department tools range from six to 27 years old and they are not as effective as newer tools against the high strength steel used in cars.
"The older tools can't effectively cut through structural steel," Varnes said. "Eventually you can get through, but the new tools can cut through in one motion and allow faster access to the victim."
Even though each extrication can vary from seconds to hours, most trauma victims need to be removed and transported to a hospital within an hour, he said.
The new tools are also easier to use and safer, he added.
Several Council members attended the fire department demonstration Oct. 6 where hand tools were initially used before hydraulic tools took over to free a person in 15 minutes from a vehicle.
"The open house demonstration showed new tools are needed," said Council member Dan Williams during a Council workshop Oct. 22.
At the workshop. Council members reviewed information compiled by the fire department about the department's extrication equipment.
In 2011, a Toyota Hybrid was hit by a semi truck and sustained significant damage, according to the report. The severely injured driver needed immediate extrication but the modern car had high strength steel, and the department's tools could not effectively cut the structural materials of the vehicle.
Afterwards, the tools, 6 to 27 years old, were tested and met manufacturer's specifications, but because auto manufacturers are making cars stronger, the fire department's rescue tools are obsolete, according to the fire department's report presented to Council.
Council member Dennis Hanink said the man trapped in the Toyota could have been extricated sooner with new equipment.
A committee of firefighters researched different tools to replace the older ones. The committee compiled a list of tools needed and obtained quotes from two vendors for the new tools and for trade-in of obsolete tools. The initial quotes were above the budgeted amount of $35,000, which was determined to be insufficient. The budgeted amount was raised to $41,000 in order to cover the purchase and mounting, which is $1,000.
The new tools include two pumps, a spreader, cutter, combination tool, rams, rocker panel support braces, hoses and stabilization kits.
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