Aug 12, 2023

Amity Fire receives $30K grant for ‘jaws of life’ equipment

Firefighters with the Amity Volunteer Fire Department use a battery-operated eDRAULIC extrication tool to cut open a car during a demonstration.

Submitted photo

A $30,000 grant will allow the Amity Volunteer Fire Department to upgrade life-saving extrication equipment.

Earlier this month, Amity Fire announced it had received a $30,000 grant from the Johnson County Community Foundation to purchase three, battery-operated eDRAULIC extrication tools from HURST Jaws of Life. These hydraulic rescue tools, frequently called the “jaws of life,” are used by emergency rescue personnel to assist in the extrication of victims from vehicle accidents, as well as other rescues in small spaces.

Dana Monson, Amity’s fire district director, applied for the community foundation grant on behalf of Amity Fire. They already have hydraulic rescue tools, however, they are a bit outdated and cumbersome to use, said Jackie Brockman, fire chief.

For the current equipment, firefighters are required to connect to equipment to a big hydraulic pump with a hose. These pumps are difficult to move around, Brockman said.

The new battery-operated tools will make it much easier for firefighters to use and move around. They can also do everything the current tools can, and can also be used for a variety of incidents, he said.

“If you got somebody under a tractor, for instance, or under a piece of equipment, we’ll be able to use a spreader to pick it up or the RAM to pick it up, whatever,” Brockman said. “The possibilities are there, they’re everywhere. There’s no limit.”

The new tools will speed up the response process, and eliminate limitations of the current equipment. Now, firefighters have to use a long hydraulic hose that is run across the ground to either connect to a truck or a pump. There are many ways hydraulic pressure could be lost this way, Brockman said.

“The pump could shut down, have a problem and then you’re done,” he said. “There’s just a number of issues with that hose being on the ground. I’ve read stories where people ran over the hoses and killed the pump.”

During a past rescue, the department had the pump go down. They spent a long time trying to find a replacement and initially had no luck as the pump wasn’t made anymore. Amity did eventually find a used one in another state, Brockman said.

“That’s the first tool as we know it now, that has progressed to the point to where you’re going to see the 0ld hydraulic pumps with hoses and all that, they’re a thing of the past,” he said.

Soon, the department won’t be depending on outdated equipment. The eDRAULIC extrication tools each come with a spare battery, so if a battery is completely run down, it takes only 10 seconds to change a battery and then put the old battery back on a charger, Brockman said.

The batteries for the tools last a long time. During a session with some demonstration models, Amity Fire was able to cut up multiple cars on a single battery, he said.

There’s also more maneuverability with the new tools, as they won’t have to be connected by hoses to a pump.

“We won’t have to worry about maneuverability. This thing’s gonna just go wherever you want to go with it, including underwater,” he said.

Amity Fire expects the new tools to arrive any day, and Brockman can’t wait for them to arrive.

“It really changes our game, the way we do things, because now we’re not depending on that hydraulic pump,” he said.