VIDEO: How Montgomery Co. firefighters rescue trapped drivers

It’s truly a nightmare scenario on the road: a horrific crash that leaves a driver or passenger pinned inside a car, and in need of being cut out.

Luckily, rescuers are very good at what they do, and their tools are more powerful than ever.

An early step in a vehicle rescue involves stabilizing the vehicle so it doesn’t move, said Capt. James Randall of Montgomery County Fire and Rescue. That can involve resting the underside of the body on blocks and letting the air out of the tires.

He added that the battery is disconnected so the air bags won’t deploy, and that the vehicle glass is broken in a controlled way before it breaks on its own.

Then, the really hard work begins: removing doors and, if needed, the roof, using powerful cutting and spreading tools — better known as “The Jaws of Life.” A usual strategy is to expose door hinges and then cut them.

With lives at stake, it all happens fast, Master Firefighter Jerry Smith said.

“Removing the doors on a vehicle should be only a few minutes,” he said. “Some of the more complicated extrications, no more than maybe 20 minutes.”

See an example of how first responders do a rescue in the above video, which was shot at the Montgomery County Public Safety Training Academy.

John Aaron

John Aaron is a news anchor and reporter for WTOP. After starting his professional broadcast career as an anchor and reporter for WGET and WGTY in Gettysburg, PA, he went on to spend several years in the world of sports media, working for Comcast SportsNet, MLB Network Radio, and WTOP sports.

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