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Tools of the Trade

Being a part of the extrication community allows me to attend trade shows and seminars and keep abreast of what’s happening in the industry.

August 4, 2011 
By Randy Schmitz

Packexe Smash is an adhesive product that can be applied to tempered glass to keep it intact and packaged so it can easily be removed from the vehicle, protecting rescuers and victims.


Being a part of the extrication community allows me to attend trade shows and seminars and keep abreast of what’s happening in the industry. I am often asked to test equipment and products and give my opinions to the manufacturers. Although there are lots of great products that enter the market every year, there are a few that stick out in my mind. In my opinion, anything that will reduce the time it takes to remove a patient from a motor vehicle within the golden hour is a clear benefit to the goal of increasing the survival rate of crash victims. Here are a few of the items I had the chance to test.

I would first like to mention a product I wrote about in the August 2009 edition of Fire Fighting in Canada called the Crash Recovery software program by Modi-Tech Rescue Solutions. Modi-Tech is based in the Netherlands and has been in operation since 2004. It has developed a program to assist rescuers with vital information regarding vehicle safety systems, high-strength steel locations, 12-volt batteries, airbag locations, fuel systems, specific shut-down procedures for hybrid/electric vehicles, magnesium locations for vehicle fires, Xexon headlights, and other factors, applicable to more than 28,000 vehicles in North America and Europe. Until recently, the program was available only on laptops, but information is now available via iPhone and iPad applications in the IOS Apple platform. These applications offer instant access to shut-down procedures for every hybrid vehicle that has been produced. In the next two months, according to Jan Mooij, the managing director for Modi-Tech Rescue Solutions, the rest of the crash-recovery program will be made available in the application. The material is displayed in high-resolution quality and the prices will be equivalent to the current laptop editions, but the hybrid app is presently available free of charge through iTunes. Visit for more information and visit to download the application.

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The First Responder Jack by Hi-Lift is an easy-to-use, versatile jack with a rated load capacity of 4,660 pounds (2,113 kilograms).


The First Responder Jack by Hi-Lift, designed by firefighters, is easy to use and versatile. Its applications include lifting, winching, spreading and ramming. It requires no fuel or power, just a little muscle.

Having a rated load capacity of 4,660 pounds (2,113 kilograms) the jack comes in three sizes: 36 inches, 48 inches and 60 inches (90, 120 and 152 centimetres) and weighs between 27 and 33 pounds (12 to 15 kilograms). A removable clamp-clevis at the top of the jack, rated at 5,000 pounds (2,267 kilograms) is great for winching. Every jack comes with a shear bolt to prevent the jack from lifting a capacity of more than 7,000 pounds (3,175 kilograms). One unique feature that I believe makes a huge difference is the detachable rotating base plate. With 36 square inches of surface area, it will accommodate cribbing, chain and straps for many rescue applications. Some of the evolutions I have performed with great success are a door removal by inverting the jack in the window space, steering column displacement for lower extremely entrapment, roof tenting for rapid extrication out the rear of a vehicle, seat lowering for reducing interior obstruction and brake-pedal removal. Keep an eye out for a more in-depth training article for this product in my Extrication Tips column in Canadian Firefighter and EMS Quarterly in the near future. In the meantime, check out for more information.

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Draeger’s brimless HPS 3100 extrication helmet is designed to help first responders easily work in tight areas without the hindrance of a helmet brim.  


The new HPS 3100 extrication/HUSAR helmet from Draeger is designed to allow first responders to enter a vehicle to access patients and provide medical care without having to worry about catching the helmet while climbing through a tight space such as a rear window. Most fire helmets have large brims that surround the perimeter of the helmet to keep embers at bay, but the brim can be a hindrance while working in tight spaces. The Draeger HPS 3100 helmet has no brim and therefore does not inhibit rescuers from working in confined areas. Also, sealable holes with a metal mesh covering to stop debris are built in to allow for adequate ventilation in humid atmospheres, such as the inside of a vehicle on a hot day. The head strap is easily adjustable by an easy-grip, rotating hand wheel at the rear. A comfortable chinstrap keeps the helmet secure when looking up or down. At 115 grams, the weight of the helmet is not a factor, even if you have to wear it all day (I wore this helmet for four straight eight-hour days with no issues). Of particular note is the detachable, slip-down, anti-fog/anti-scratch, flameproof goggle attachment. The interior of the helmet is a four-point harness made of skin-friendly material that is anti-allergen, anti-sweat and anti-mould. An adaptation pin located on the right side of the outer shell will secure a flashlight if needed. Other accessories can be added, such as multiple visor designs and ear protection adapter ports. Not only is this a great product for vehicle rescue situations, but also it is suitable for all technical support operations and comes in eight colours. Visit for more information.

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Packexe Smash is a glass management system for vehicle rescue. Side window glass, also known as tempered glass, often needs to be removed prior to forcibly removing doors by mechanical means (for example, forcing open a jammed door with hydraulic spreaders). If this is not done, the side glass window will be put under great stress to the point at which it will fragment, break, and shower patients and rescuers with glass fragments. Even breaking the glass out with specialized tools, such as a glass master saw or spring-loaded centre punch, will result in a fair amount of glass falling in and around the vehicle and causing problems. Packexe Smash is an adhesive product that is applied to the tempered glass prior to extrication to keep the glass intact and packaged in a nice, clean protective sheet. The glass is easily managed when removing it from the vehicle, or it can be left intact if warranted. A dispenser with double foam rollers that follow the vehicle contours allows smooth coverage and easy application of the product, and the protective film gives the glass a 42-per-cent increase in strength. The adhesive film works on dry or wet surfaces and has perforations every four inches (10 centimetres). This product has been accepted as standard procedure for glass management in extrication competitions worldwide for the past three years and has started to take hold in the fire service with very promising results. Other areas of potential use are being explored, for example, securing broken glass from highrise buildings for the safety of the public below, and minimizing the time and effort that high-angle rescuers spend suspended on ropes over the edge to collect glass pieces out of the frame. Visit for more details.

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Edraulics is a new rescue-tool system from Hurst Jaws of Life that enables rescuers to be free of hoses and power units. This lithium-ion battery-powered rescue set is strong enough to overcome vehicle construction that is resistant to cutting and spreading. 


Hurst Rescue Tools, which branded the term Jaws of Life back in the 1970s, was the first manufacturer of hydraulic tools for the purpose of rescue. George Hurst, the man behind the concept, pioneered the project and put it into play first on the racetrack. The Jaws of Life became the tool of choice for rescuing drivers in bad wrecks. This evolved into the rescue of trapped victims in motor vehicle accidents, and the rescue-tool industry was born. Hurst has come up with an interesting design, called Edraulics, which enables rescuers to be free of hoses and power units. Essentially, this new rescue-tool system is a lithium-ion battery-powered rescue set that is powerful enough to overcome vehicle construction that is resistant to cutting and spreading. Available to operate in either battery mode or a 110-volt plug-in option, Edraulics has set a new benchmark in rescue-tool innovation. Hurst offers a spreader, a cutter, a ram, and a combi-tool. The S700 Cutter has a 7.3-inch (18.5-centimetre) blade opening to take on the larger B-posts on newer vehicles and draw it deep into the centre notch for increased cutting ability. It is certified to cut at A8/B9/C8/D9/E9 ranges. The SP300E spreader has a spreading force of 25,000 pounds (11,339 kilograms) and a spreading distance of 23.8 inches (60.5 centimetres). The tool weighs 45 pounds (20 kilograms). The R411E ram is a compact unit that has 47.2 inches (120 centimetres) of extended length with extension accessory attachment and 23,154 pounds (10,502 kilograms) of pushing force at 32 pounds (15 kilograms). The combination spreader/cutter SC350E spreading force is 24,500 pounds (11,113 kilograms) with a weight of 43.7 pounds (20 kilograms), a spreading distance of more than 14 inches (35.5 centimetres) and a cutter classification of A6/B7/C7/D7/E7. Check out

Randy Schmitz is a Calgary firefighter who has been extensively involved in the extrication field for 19 years. He is an extrication instructor and has competed internationally. He is the education chair for Transport Emergency Rescue Committee (T.E.R.C.) in Canada, a T.E.R.C. International extrication judge and a tester and evaluator for manufactured prototype products for extrication equipment. He can be reached at

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