University of Extrication: Steering Columns

A three-part series about steering columns was published in Firehouse® in February, March and April 2006. Steering-column design features, rack-and-pinion column challenges and techniques for moving the column on a side-resting vehicle were addressed. This column, a follow-up to that series, looks at an alternative steering wheel and column rescue technique, one that is not thought of often.


This Trainer’s Guide outlines a rescue evolution that can best be described as “lifting” of the wheel and column. It involves working outside of the vehicle using rescue tools across the windshield opening of the vehicle. As long as the vehicle’s roof structure is present and fairly intact, a long length piece of four-inch-by-four-inch cribbing is placed across the windshield opening, directly above the column. A length of chain is placed over the cribbing, down around the column below the knuckle joint, and then is formed into a loop. With a tool inserted into the loop of chain on top of the cribbing, a simple lift from above can quickly result in clearance to extricate a trapped driver.


TASK: Given an acquired vehicle to train with, the rescue team shall demonstrate their ability to lift a steering wheel and column off a simulated trapped driver as shown in this article using a primary and then an alternate lifting tool.