PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. (Feb. 10, 2022) – Firefighters with the Presidio of Monterey Fire Department practiced for worst-case scenarios as they participated in hands-on vehicle extrication training at California State University, Monterey Bay, Feb. 9.
Using donated junked vehicles, firefighters used the “Jaws of Life” and other equipment to cut apart vehicles alongside other local agencies from within Monterey County. The training helped firefighters master skills that will improve their ability save lives in emergencies. It also demonstrated how PoM firefighters and other emergency personnel work alongside their counterparts in Monterey County.
Capt. Keith Fulton of the PoM Fire Department said regular vehicle extrication training is important because firefighters never know when they are going to receive a call at 2 a.m. on a rainy night that could require difficult rescue techniques.
“You have people relying on you to operate at the highest level to get them out,” Fulton said. “What if it’s your wife, your family member? You want us to be on our ‘A’ game in the middle of the night, in the most difficult situations. We do this often enough that it becomes muscle memory.”
PoM firefighters first practiced how to stabilize a vehicle, then cut the doors, side and roof off, and finished by lifting a crushed dashboard.
Ken Folsom, emergency manager for the CSUMB Police Department, said he and Deputy Chief John Short organized the training for regional fire departments because it is important to master vehicle extrication skills.
“I was a fireman for 39 years and I know how important it is to be able to train under a non-stress environment, not with people live in the car or trying to hurry to cut them out,” Folsom said.
Folsom said that when possible, a member of the emergency personnel team gets inside the vehicle to help victims during real-world extrications, and he has experienced extrications from inside and outside of vehicles.
From inside vehicles, extrications require a lot of trust because emergency personnel put a tarp over the victim and emergency personnel member so shards of glass and metal don’t injure them, Folsom said.
“You know what’s going on, but you can’t see it,” Folsom said. “It’s a little—it’s different, but you have to have that trust and you have to ensure that you put that trust to the victim.”
The PoM Fire Department, which has its headquarters at Ord Military Community next to CSUMB, provides the university with fire protection. PoM Firefighter Ian Santa Cruz, who has worked for the department for 15 years, said he appreciated the training opportunity.
The training will make firefighters more efficient and effective at accident scenes, Santa Cruz said.
“Just like anything else, the more you’re going to do it, the more your muscle memory is going to be used to it, so if we get on a scene and it’s an emergency and we’ve done this a few times, it’s going to be in our muscle memory,” Santa Cruz said.