Tulare County Fire Department awarded grant to buy new equipment

Newer version of jaws of life will allow firefighters to rescue those pinned in vehicles following traffic collisions

The Sun-Gazette

TULARE COUNTY – Minutes can be the difference between life and death for those pinned into vehicles following traffic collisions. Cars may catch on fire. Drivers may have head trauma. Passengers may have internal bleeding. And while most firefighters have engines equipped with large, hydraulic scissors known as the jaws of life, equipment wears down and becomes less effective over time.

In an effort to gain every second to their advantage, the Tulare County Fire Department (TCFD) will purchase new extrication equipment thanks to a $175,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS). 

“This newer equipment is lighter and easier to use, allowing us to rescue victims faster, which ultimately increases their chances of survival,” said TCFD Fire Chief Charlie Norman. “In many cases, even minutes without treatment can be a matter of life and death, which is why it is important to have reliable equipment that allows first responders to provide care as quickly as possible.” 

So far this year, Tulare County Fire Department has responded to 1,240 crashes in which 57 required extrication. 

Delays in extrication can negatively impact the patient’s critical “golden hour” of trauma survivability. The “golden hour” for Emergency Medical Services is the core principle of rapid intervention in trauma cases: 1) get to the patient quickly, 2) treat what can be treated on scene, and 3) quickly get the patient to the right hospital. Anything that can be done to reduce each of these time periods aids in patient survival and recovery. 

Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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