Fire Fighting in Canada

Equipment
Techsmart: Auto-ex Unplugged

Incident scenes can be chaotic, particularly multi-vehicle collisions at which flashing lights, injured patients, twisted metal and curious onlookers can add to the mayhem.

September 10, 2013
By Olivia D’Orazio

Incident scenes can be chaotic, particularly multi-vehicle collisions at which flashing lights, injured patients, twisted metal and curious onlookers can add to the mayhem.

S-AutoEx-photo2  
Participants at the 5th Annual Bit Rig H.O.T.S. in Alberta in June use wireless tools to open the cab of a semi-truck.  Photo by Greg Howard


 

The noise of power generators at extrication calls, paired with the stress of moving quickly and efficiently to connect hydraulic hoses and ensure patient and firefighter safety, certainly doesn’t help to instil a sense of calm on scene. 

Some responders have found that quieter, wireless, battery operated tools such as Hurst’s eDraulics, Holmatro’s Self Contained Rescue Tools, and Genesis’ EForce line, each of which were launched a few years ago but are gaining popularity, reduce both noise and tripping hazards, and make for a less tense scene.

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These tools are entirely battery operated – they do not need hoses, power units, gasoline or couplings to function – but users say they’re strong enough to completely finish a cut.

Auto-ex guru, Calgary firefighter and Canadian Firefighter and EMS Quarterly  columnist Randy Schmitz, who has used Hurst’s eDraulics, says he finds nothing lacking in the tools’ power.

“The eDraulics perform exactly the same as any other wired tool or tool that uses a pump,” Schmitz says.

“There is no difference in the amount of cutting force or spreading force or power.”

Schmitz says the greatest advantage is that the tools are easy and quick to set up. With no hydraulic hose to unravel or generator to start, firefighters can arrive on scene and immediately get to work.

“I can grab that tool and I can push a button and I have instant power,” Schmitz says.

“It’s portable; for example, if you go to a crash and the vehicle is in a ravine or down an embankment, you can bring that tool down there very quickly. You can get busy right away.”

S-AutoEx-photo1  
Battery-operated extrication tools, such as Hurst’s
eDraulic line, reduce both noise and tripping hazards, and make for a
less tense accident scene.
Photo courtesy hurst


 

Code 4, the Canadian dealer for the Hurst line, recently shot back at competitors’ claims that the eDraulic battery life is inadequate, that the tools’ weight exceeds the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards, and that the price is much higher than other traditional tools.

In a recent newsletter, Code 4 said the tools have been verified by a third party and are compliant to NFPA 1936 standards. Code 4 also said five of the six tools weigh less than 23 kilograms (50 pounds), with the smallest tool weighing just 17 kilograms (37.3 pounds). In addition, Code 4 said, the lack of a hose reduces the lag, resulting in faster movements.

According to Hurst, the battery functions in temperatures as low as -20 C, and because the battery itself provides a certain amount of heat, the tools have been known to successfully operate through ambient temperatures of -29 C. The tools come with two batteries and a 110-volt adaptor.

Schmitz says that these two concerns – battery life and how the tools would function in cold weather – mirrored his own worries. However, after using the tools, these concerns were mitigated.

“I cut up a full-sized minivan – all the doors and the dash and everything – that was about half an hour [of work], and I still had lots of battery life,” Schmitz says.

“You’ve got to make sure your tools are maintained properly and the batteries are fully charged before you start.

“And if the batteries do go dead . . . you can plug back in to the 110 V system and be operational again.”

For more information on Hurst’s eDraulics, visit www.jawsoflife.com , Holmatro’s Self Contained Rescue Tools, visit www.holmatro-usa.com , and on Genesis’ EForce tools, visit www.genesisrescue.com .


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