Augusta, Fort Gordon firefighters get training in vehicle extrication



As someone who has experience in emergencies, Barry Church knows the difficulties involved in getting someone out of a wrecked car.

That’s why he and a fellow Georgia Emergency Management Agency instructor spent Wednesday and Thursday with Augusta and Fort Gordon firefighters, teaching them about the tools and techniques used in extrication.

GEMA offers free extrication training to emergency responders every couple of years, and officials said, it’s a course that can never be taken too many times.

“You can look at a car today and next year it will be different,” Church said.

Each make, model and year vehicle has different air bag locations, technology, types of metal and construction. That combined with the damage, how it landed, and location and injuries of the occupants all determine how first responders perform an extrication.

Firefighters on Thursday practiced on five vehicles at Pull-A-Part on Sand Bar Ferry Road. They worked in teams to peel back the roof of a vehicle that was right-side up, “crack the egg” or break a car in half that was upside-down, and create a third door in a two-door vehicle.
“You always learn something new,” said Augusta Fire Department Capt. Mel La Pan, who has taken the course at least five times in
28 years.

Only halfway through training, La Pan had already learned a new way of getting into an overturned vehicle and worked with new tools for door removal.

Even Church, who has been a GEMA contract instructor since retiring as Habersham County EMA director in 2007, was working with a new tool.

“The technology is constantly changing,” he said.

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