TEMPLE (November 4, 2012)--More than 60 firefighters from about five counties around Central Texas gathered in Temple for a training expo for the first time, focused on vehicle extrication.
Firefighters say extrication, the process of getting trapped people out of cars, is almost a daily task for them.
Capt. Leroy Vargas of Temple Fire & Rescue recalls one of the most devastating rescues he has ever assisted.
"A young man unfortunately was trapped within a drive shaft of an 18 wheeler that required partial amputation," Capt. Vargas said.
Firefighters also say the many different types of cars now available give buyers more options, but it also can create challenges when accidents happen.
Advancements in car safety features can be good for the passengers, but without the right tools, make it tougher for rescue workers, firefighters said.
"What was easy to cut with a basic tool in the past, we have to have a more advanced tool to get through the metal today because they're making the cars safer," said Capt. Ron Stewart of Temple Fire & Rescue.
"They're making the passenger compartments more difficult to penetrate when they're struck from outside."
The need for a better understanding and newer tools prompted local firefighters to use stronger cutting tools to get through the newest and strongest metals.
Battery-powered tools also help rescuers move around easier, compared to old tools with power cords and constraints.
There is even help on their smart phones in the form of an app firefighters can use to get specific details about the car they're about to cut into.
"We're constantly having to renew what we're learning. Being a fire fighter, it doesn't mean you go through fire school and then you're done," Capt. Stewart said.
Firefighters say no matter the technology, the priority stays the same.
"The faster we get them out of the car, the faster they can get medical attention," said Matt Robinson of Teague Volunteer Fire Department.