Firefighters and paramedics with the Helena Fire Department are spending Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons slicing and dicing through six cars donated to the stations by Pacific Steel and Recycling.
On Tuesday, Rescue Specialist Jeff Gates was in full gear watching and instructing them as they broke windows and peeled doors off the body of a gold Oldsmobile.
The crews are practicing extrication techniques using their new HURST JL-500 cutter. The tool boasts 5,000 pounds per square inch of force and is capable of cutting through the toughest forms of steel, Boron Steel included.
Gates works with L.N. Curtis & Sons to train emergency responders to use extrication equipment — he and three other rescue specialists cut up about 4,000 cars a year in training sessions across the country — and said the new tools will equip Helena with the best, newest safety equipment.
When responding to an accident with potentially critical injuries, the time it takes to remove someone from a vehicle can be the difference between life and death, he said. The new equipment, while similar to the department’s old tools, is both stronger and faster.
Assistant Fire Chief Ken Wood said the city of Helena budgeted the $8,500 it cost to purchase the new equipment in order to get out in front of new federal standards for auto safety that will see Boron Steel becoming the most popular material for building vehicles in the coming years.
For more information, view helenair.com