Thread: Clueless Probie

  1. #1
    Michelle Latham Guest

    Red face Clueless Probie

    Hi everyone! I'm your typical clueless probie who knows a whole lot of nothing about extrication. (I'm a firefighter/EMT in Fairbanks, Alaska.) Every time I've been on an MVA call or in extrication training I'm absolutely lost! I don't have the slightest idea how to decide where and when to cut a vehicle. Even when I have the Hurst gear in my hands I'm still confused and my officer practically has to draw pictures for me. Can any of you help me out so that I can learn more about extrication? We don't get a lot of MVA calls here in Fairbanks and we can't afford a lot of extrication training so I'm not going to get loads of hands-on experience. I'm hoping that maybe there is a good book or website or person out there who would be willing to help me learn as much as I can about "cutting up cars" so I can be a useful Probie on an MVA scene.
    Thanks a ton!!!!!


  2. #2
    ejfd30 Guest


    OK, now remember a few things, first and foremost, we were all Clueless and Probes at one Time, With that said remember a few things, what you are attempting to do is to remove a patient from a car, right, NO, You are trying to remove a twisted pile of metal from around a possible seriously injured patient. So Step One: Your Safety, Step Two: Try to put Twisted wreck back to it's original shape ( As much as we can with in reason ) This will make it easier to work on. Step Three: Anyplace that there is a corner or latch is for the most part going to be harder to cut through that area, with anything, you may do better to cut around. Step Four: Remove Patient from car Keeping in mind there Potential injury. with the proper head/neck Protection in place. Sounds like your C.O. is trying to get you to learn this, Pick up any and all books that you can, get the VHS tapes (Car Busters Is one of them) this is all a good starting point. It is NOT rocket science to cut a car apart, as was said to me in '98 at the university of GA Extrication school, the Doctors are human surgeons, we are Steel surgeons. Take your time, Learn, and ask the Questions, You will get it.

    Steve H.

  3. #3
    Michelle Latham Guest


    Thanks Steve! You really put everything into perspective when you wrote about how I'd be trying to remove the car from around the patient instead of vice-versa. That makes a LOT of sense. Can you expand on your suggestion about "putting the twisted wreck back into it's original shape"? How would a firefighter do that? Do you use the Hurst gear? Do you push everything back into place or do you just cut it away?? As you can see I'm very curious!
    Thanks so much for your help!!

  4. #4
    dfwscotty Guest


    Michelle, you've done the best thing in learning more about it right here.....admitting you know nothing about it. If more ff's did this, we would have alot smarter profession! I assume you admit this to the people around you when you are training also I hope. Next time you are training, and the instructor wants you to remove a door for example, instead of doing what everyone says is the best way, do it your way. If you ask everyone in this website for the best way to remove the door, you will get that many opinions. Hey, if it was easy and worked exactly right 100% of the time then that would do it. Just keep asking for help from your fellow ff's and they will also have a high opinion of you. "That Michelle may be green but she will get in there and make the effort!" Good luck!

  5. #5
    Carl Avery Guest

    Thumbs up

    Look no further than our own forum moderator, Ron Moore has written one of the best books in the Business on the Business. Also as was mentioned there are very few experts anywhere out there, Even Ron Moore ask's me what is new when he see me. NO I AM NOT BEATING MY CHEST about that, What I am trying to say is Even the best in the Business are all searching for new and better ways to do the Job! Remember the principles of Extrication. 1- Do NO Harm (to your self or your peers or your Clients/patients) 2- When you extricate someone keep there Nose toes and Belly button in line, 3- and very important for us extricator to remember, instead of removing the car from the patient, Remove the car from the patient (Peel the car away from the patient). Also try a look see at the TERC (Transportation Emergency Rescue Committee of the IAFC) web sigh : there are links and information there for you to check out

    Rescue is the Art & Science of matching your tools, talents and tricks to needs of our customers!
    Carl D. Avery

  6. #6
    Michelle Latham Guest


    dfwscotty if you were a member of my department you'd see first-hand how much of a probie I am hahahaha! My official firehouse name is "Hurry up Michelle!" (I'd put that on my helmet but it won't fit) I'm the one who trips, falls, gets frozen to ladders, stuck in tunnels, lost in our training building, thrown around by the hose, hooked to doors by my SCBA, bursts into tears beacuse I'm mad as a hornet and scared out of my wits, trapped on top of fire engines, frozen to the ground, confused in the ambulance, collapsed in an exhausted heap under the hotel pack after staggering up a few stories, and just about ANYTHING else you can think of! When it comes to questions I'm like Niagra Falls - and I'm surprised I haven't been duct-taped to a tree or something by now because I'm sure I drive my firefighters and medics insane! It sure was nice to see your positive response to my probie curiosity. I'm beginning to see that it's ok to ask a zillion questions in the fire service. It's good to learn! (Thank God.)
    I know that there are ten million ways of cutting up cars with the Hurst gear - I'm just trying to gather the basics. You know: all of those great tips and bits of advice that veteran firefighters and medics have learned over the years. They are priceless!!!! I do have a question for you though - Is there such thing as Car Anatomy? Is there a basic way that vehicles are built that would help me understand their structure and make-up so I'd know where to put the tools? If there is such a thing, do you know of any books or websites I could see?
    I don't mind being a probie - I was a helicopter mechanic in the Navy and I started from scratch and learned my way up. I know I'll "get it" eventually and I'll be a useful firefighter! For now I'll do my time as a Clueless Probie with a big happy smile on my face and a bunch of questions at-the-ready.
    Thanks a lot for your help!!!! Be safe and have a good day every day!

  7. #7
    Michelle Latham Guest


    Hi Carl Avery - thanks for your post. I'll look at the TERC website when I get back to my dorm. At the moment I've managed to wheedle my way onto our head paramedic's computer so I don't want to hog it for tooooo long. I'll let you know what I find after I check out the links!
    The thing I love about the fire service is the fact that you never stop learning - training is so dynamic! I don't have to worry about knowing everything because that's impossible. (I just can't wait until I know enough to be a bit more useful hehehe)
    Thanks so much for your help!!

    [This message has been edited by Michelle Latham (edited 05-07-2001).]

  8. #8
    pokeyfd12 Guest


    Michelle, the first thing I always teach my extrication students is: slow down, take a walk or two around the vehicle to be cut apart and ask the EMT's how they want to remove the patients. It could be just as simple as popping a door open or it could be as difficult as cutting the roof off, removing seats and pushing the front end away from the front seats. It could be a five minute operation or a three-hour ordeal.

    The next thing you always want to do before attempting anything is to make sure the vehicle is stabilized. In other words, make sure the car doesn't roll away, shake or rock during extrication work. Then there is the "try before you pry" rule. Make sure the reason the doors won't open is because they might be locked. If somebody hasn't already, gain access by removing a window and try to unlock the doors or try to open them with the inside handle. Sometimes that's enough (common sense) to open a door and cancel the tools.

    As for a quick anatomy lesson, a vehicle usually has some strong points to remember, the rest is just mainly "skin." If you were to open the drivers door of any car, the part by the windshield that angles towards the roof over the driver is called the A-post, the post the driver seat belt is attached just behind your left ear if you are in the seat is the B-post. The post that slopes down along the rear windshield towards the trunk is the C-post. The horizontal pieces on the bottom as you open the door are called rocker panels.
    There's some anatomy for you. Hope it helps.

    Rescue Lt. Kevin C. (aka Pokey)

  9. #9
    Michelle Latham Guest

    Red face

    Hi Lt. Kevin C. !
    3 hour extrications???? Is that for real??
    So it's ok to take time to walk around a car and stick wood under it and all that? I always thought that if you didn't hurry up and start cutting the car you'd get hung! What would I be looking for as I walked around the car?
    Thanks for the anatomy lesson!
    Must...get..sleep...(It's Evil Finals Week)

  10. #10
    Les.H Guest

    Thumbs up

    Hi Michelle, thought I'd put in a bit of advice as well. You can do more harm to an entrapped victim by rushing. An assessment needs to be undertaken by the OIC and the crew need to be doing something like running out a precautionary hose line, dry powder ext ready, setting up a tool point, first aid kit and ensuring that they are all safe from other road users (rubber neckers). The vehicle needs to be chocked to ensure that it will not more an inch when extrication commences. This all takes time.

    The casualty needs to be stabilized and airways cleared etc. Then the process starts to withdraw the casualty from the wreck. The OIC should try the easiest method first. Try levering doors etc, glass management needs to be considered and the casualty protected at all times. This may involve eye and ear protection and the use of tear boards to protect them from any debris that could fly about.

    For every action in cutting the is also an equal and opposite reaction. Understanding this takes time and experience. The more exp[experienced crew members do these tasks whilst the newer members watch and learn. We have a lot of high speed impacts on our ground, some head-ons with each vehicle doing 70 mph plus (combined impact of 140 mph)and it will not take long for a new member to pick up the methods. But the older hands always lead with the younger ones asking the right questions. We will never know it all but this job is all about team work and supporting one another. Listen, learn and put into practice.

    Kindest regards & keep safe,

    Sprinkle (UK)

    [This message has been edited by Les.H (edited 05-08-2001).]

  11. #11
    firefighter26 Guest


    Things may be a little different here in Canada, but when I was learning the basics of auto extrication, I read my IFSTA manual and watched all the CARS videos I could beg, borrow or steal (I gave those ones back )

    CARS, (Canadian Automotive Rescue Society), puts out some great basic extrication videos. In our hall, they are practically required viewing for the amount of MVAs we can get. Since CARS works so closely with TERC I am sure their videos are also great.

    Getting to your question about exctrication, next to reading and videos, I found that getting my hands on the tools and actually cutting things up works the best. However, not everyone has the chance to cut up a few cars every month. So, when you do get a car to play with, try to make every cut count. I got a lot of time on the air chizel by simply cutting every piece of sheet metel I could find, fenders, hoods and trunks.

    Going to a few compititions also helps out a lot. The ones I have gone to, manufacturers have vehicles with cut away doors etc, to show the insides of the car.

    Well, I am sure that many people have their opinions too, so good luck. Everyone was a probie once, the only way to learn is to ask questions and don't be afraid to try new things and make mistakes during practices.

  12. #12
    ejfd30 Guest


    Well, Looks to me that you have gotten a lot of good help, I read them all also! Like I said before YOUR safety is Number 1! you asked me to expand on a comment, When I said put the car back to original, I mean when you start Pushing and pulling with the Hydraulics (HURST) or what ever you have. This is more advanced then you are at this time, but you will get there. The other thing you cant do too much of is LEARN, you do that by asking the Questions, Most of the 2 million Firefighters in the US have ten's of years experience, I have 12, If you stop Learing you going to end up in violation of rule one. (THAT'S NOT GOOD) Be Safe. Common sense is the Best Tool that you can use ay a MVA. As for what some may call a Hazard, seems to me if you slow down a bit you will have less accidents, If that does not work, Hay **** Happens! Be safe, Keep Learning!!
    Steve H.

  13. #13
    Michelle Latham Guest


    I have good news everyone! My fire department has signed me up for an EMS symposium (However you spell it hahaha) and I get to spend a day at an extrication class! Only bad news: I got hurt during training last night so all I can do is watch everyone cut up cars. (I went flying down a flight of stairs when my partner pulled the hose out of the building - he didn't know I had the hose looped over my shoulder.) But I'll make sure I wheedle my way in real close and ask TONS of questions while everyone cuts the cars.
    Thanks for all of your help! Keep it coming if you want - I love to learn!!!!
    Stay safe!

  14. #14
    Michelle Latham Guest


    You know you're a Probie:

    This list has been moved to "Firefighter's Forums."

    [This message has been edited by Michelle Latham (edited 05-13-2001).]

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