Rescuers: Car technology makes saving lives harder

Credit: KTVB

Brandon Erikson is an EMS training captain with Eagle Fire Department. Erikson says newer automotive technology can often mean more danger for rescuers. He uses several specialty Ipad apps to help train his crews.

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by Karen Zatkulak

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KTVB.COM

Posted on September 8, 2013 at 8:47 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 8:02 AM

EAGLE -- Local first responders say their job of saving lives after a car accident is getting much harder.

That's because car technology has changed drastically over the years, making extrications more difficult and dangerous.

Over the years, the Eagle Fire Department has become the Treasure Valley's expert when it comes to extrications.

Brandon Erikson is an EMS training captain who works to get all our local agencies up to speed on the latest tools and technology.

"When it's your family, when its you trapped in that vehicle, understand that we have hundreds of hours of training behind us," said Erikson.

But Erikson says their job is getting much more difficult, since the way cars are being built is changing. He says now there can be as many as 13 airbags inside a car, and each one is an extra obstacle for their powerful tools.

"The biggest danger we run into is if we cut through one of those gas cylinders then we create that mini explosion, so that can hurt the patient, that can hurt the responders," said Erikson.

Which is why they now use apps, like Extrication Pro to learn more about what's inside each car. Erikson says they can view an exact picture of each car based on its model and year.

The diagram shows exactly what spots they should avoid during an extrication, like high voltage cable lines in newer hybrids that can spark fires if cut.

"We're looking at that car going how would we deal with it, how would we cut that car apart, what dangers are associated with it," said Erikson.

Erikson says the goal is a better understanding of each cars' build, so crews are ready in an emergency.

"That's the ultimate decision point, what can the patient's condition handle, how can we cut the car apart, get them in the ambulance and get them off to the trauma center," said Erikson.

Erikson says one reason they specialize in extrications is because there are three major highways in Eagle, so the department sees plenty of serious accidents.

He says members have more training coming up in October with instructors from across the country.

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