The Urbana Fire Division is in the process of incorporating new rescue equipment it recently received as part of a federal grant.
Some of the new tools include cutters used to help extricate or remove people from vehicles, airbags that help lift objects and vehicle stabilization tools.
Urbana Fire Chief Mark Keller said the division handles about 120 vehicle crashes a year within their district. While not all calls require extrication, he said the new tools will help make the process easier and more efficient.
Keller said the division has had the new equipment for about a month and is starting to incorporate the new items.
The division held a three-day training session on the new equipment last week.
“It’s easy to fall behind in this business, but we’re maintaining and sometimes we’re moving things ahead with these new higher-tech rescue tools,” Keller said.
Fire Capt. Jerry Kirk said the division previously used the same equipment except it was older, larger and bulkier than the new equipment. An example of the more efficient equipment is a smaller power unit that is easier to carry when on the scene of a crash.
Previously, the division would use a power unit for shears needed to cut through a vehicle. The addition of two 100-foot cord reels allows crews to move closer to a vehicle.
“This allows us to have the tool already hooked up and once you fire the power unit up, you can just walk to the vehicle – you don’t have to get the power unit out,” Kirk said.
Some of the new equipment is essential for dealing with rescue calls. Keller said the division’s older cutters could not cut through newer vehicles due to stronger metal used in vehicles.
In addition to auto accidents, Kirk said these tools are also used for industrial incidents.
“If you have one of the factories in town and somebody gets caught in a machine or something heavy we would be able to take these lighter units inside and cut tools,” Kirk said.
The division received an Assistance to Firefighters Grant from the Department of Homeland Security last August accounting for $57,620 of the $60,500 equipment cost.
Between funding for equipment and firefighter positions, Keller said the division has been able to secure close to $1 million from Assistance to Firefighters Grants and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants over the years.
“It’s our money that we pay in taxes that’s coming back to us for these type of things,” Keller said of the grants.
Keller noted the division recently applied for another grant to purchase a hose washer, hose dryer and hose rolling unit.
Division also receives power cot
In addition to the new rescue equipment, the division also recently received a new power cot to assist on medic runs.
Funding for the cot came from a Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation grant for a maximum of $40,000. The two cot units cost $84,000 and Keller said the division will finance the remaining amount over three years.
The power cots will allow for no lifting from a sitting position to a low position.
“We still have to do that effort of getting the person from the bed, the chair, the floor, but once we’ve secured them on the cot, then the actual cot unit does the lifting on its own,” Kirk said. “It uses hydraulics and battery power. When you get up in the ambulance and you actually lock it in, then you push another button and it actually lifts the carriage and supports all the weight itself.”
Kirk said the minimal effort requires little lifting for firefighters, which helps prevent bending and lifting along with back injuries.
The cots hold up to 700 pounds. Kirk said they are beneficial to patients because firefighters do not have to manually lift the cot – removing the risk of injury.
Training on using the cots was provided by Stryker EMS, the company which sold the cots, going through different kinds of scenarios.