Firefighters use ‘rescue tools’ to save multiple car crash victims

Here’s why outer East Portland firefighter-paramedics broke out their power tools two mornings in a row …

Emergency first responders find this car so badly smashed that the vehicle must be partially dismantled to rescue the patient. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

By David F. Ashton

Often, weeks will pass between times Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) firefighter/paramedics are called to break out their “power tools” to rescue victims trapped inside crashed vehicles.

But, only about 24 hours apart, PF&R’s Mill Park Station 7 crews rolled out to two motor vehicle accidents – both of them on SE Division Street – on August 30, and again on August 31.

With the patient protected by a heavy blanket, and a firefighter at his side, other crew members begin to remove the roof. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

The first wreck, on August 30 about 8:00 a.m., took place near SE 106th Avenue on SE Division Street, when a late-model Nissan two-door coupe rolled several times, stopping against the concrete retaining wall at Portland Sand & Gravel Company.

“The car had righted itself,” said PF&R spokesman Jesse Altig. “An adult male patient was pinned inside the vehicle,” he added.

Crews peel back the roof of the car and prepare to extricate the patient. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

Firefighters and paramedics carefully move the injured driver over to a waiting gurney, before being taken to the hospital. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

The crew of Truck 7 took out their powerful Holmatro Rescue Tools, and began snipping off the car’s roof, while using the pry bar to pull apart the driver’s side door to gain access to the injured driver.

“The extricated patient was transported to a local hospital,” said Altig.

The condition of the victim has not been reported. “The cause of the accident is unknown at this time,” Altig said. “But remember to drive safely, and remember roads may be slippery after a hard rain.”

Second wreck; 23.5 hours later

The next morning, crews work to free a driver, trapped in a van after another accident on SE Division Street. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

The next morning, at 7:33 a.m. on August 31, another traffic accident brought Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Division officers and PF&R crews to SE 139th Avenue and SE Division Street.

In front of the large PG&E Electric Substation, crews found that a landscaping company truck and a van had collided.

Using both a power cutter and spreader, crews work to free the patient. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

Cut free from hinges and latch by firefighters, the door comes off the van. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

“PF&R crews found the driver of a van pinned inside,” said Bureau spokesman Lieutenant Rich Tyler.

Again, with their Holmatro Rescue Tools in hand, the crew of Truck 7 began carefully dismantling driver’s side frame and door of the van.

Firefighters prepare to remove the injured driver from his wrecked vehicle. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

“Crews were able to successfully cut open the side of the van,” Tyler reported. “Once freed, the patient was transported to a local hospital.”

The cause of the accident remains unrevealed.

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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