The firefighter slung the solid metal sledge hammer over his shoulder and drove it down, slamming it into the stake, which dug a little deeper into the overturned car’s hood. He heaved the heavy hammer up again, and once more brought it forcefully down. The sound of grinding metal quickly followed the smack of the hammer hitting home as the stake buried deeper in the car’s hood.
After a few moments, he passed the hammer to another firefighter. A few more vigorous swings, and the stake dug into the ground, stabilizing the car, which sat on a hill.
The technique was one of many that Wilmore and Jessamine County firefighters learned Saturday at Wilmore’s fire-education class.
The class is designed to give firefighters hands-on experience with the techniques for vehicle stabilization and extrication, and get them used to actually using vehicle extrication equipment, Wilmore fire chief Jimmy Powers said.
“Just getting our hands on (the equipment), and getting to use it is great,”¿Wilmore Fire lieutenant Wiley Adams said. “It was kind of hard to see how to use it from a video.”
At least a half dozen junk cars were scattered around the gravel lot where Saturday’s class was held, all there to be cut up or turned over.
While one group of students learned how to stake through a hood for stabilization, another learned how to cut off the roof of a car to access occupants. Another group stabilized a car on its side.
The training will be instrumental in a real emergency calling for vehicle extrication, Powers said.
The class, which around 13 Wilmore and two Jessamine County firefighters attended, also was to train Wilmore firefighters in the use of rescue jacks that the Wilmore Fire Department recently purchased, he said.
The rescue jacks can be used to stabilize cars from the side and top, and can also be used to lift cars if necessary, Adams said.
“We had a wreck a few months ago, and this equipment would have been nice to have,” he said. “The county had it, but having it here means we can get to (people) sooner.”¿
Powers agreed that having their own equipment will enable Wilmore firefighters to get to people sooner, and added that it also will ensure they get into wrecked vehicles more safely.
“Now, we know our guys are going to be safe,”¿he said.
Powers said he is thankful to assistant chief Jeremy Wheatley, who spearheaded the training, as well as Danny Eades, Mike Cassidy, and others who helped out with the training.
Also, David’s Towing in Nicholasville provided the cars for the class.
“They brought them out here, and when we’re done they’re going to come at get them, all at no charge,”¿he said. “We’re really thankful to him.”
The junk cars likely will be headed to the scrap yard, the chief said.
But a pile of metal isn’t all the class will leave behind, according to Powers. It will leave the students better prepared for the moment when they will need to put their knowledge into action.
“It could mean the difference between life and death,” he said.