Auto Extrication

Auto Extrication
It’s not “extraction,” it’s “extrication.” If you extracted someone from a car crash you would simply remove the patient from the car. Because of the injuries patients suffer in vehicle collisions, it is necessary to extricate them, or remove the car from around the patient.

Auto extrication is technically defined as “safely and efficiently freeing persons, pets or livestock from entrapment in land based vehicles.” Within the city limits of Goose Creek, the Fire Department responds to motor vehicle accidents and is responsible for the extrication and care of any patients.

Motor Vehicle Accidents
At motor vehicle accidents, the fire department must neutralize all hazards such as fuels or fire, stabilize the vehicles involved, and then decide the safest way to cut, pull, and remove the vehicle away from the trapped patient(s). Many times these vehicles are inverted, on their side, or off the roadway. This work is done with the knowledge that any wrong move or any second wasted may affect the patient’s chance of survival.

The Golden Hour
The golden hour refers to a critical time period after someone has suffered a major trauma injury. Trauma experts have determined that advanced medical care in a hospital or emergency room setting within one hour of the injury greatly increases the chance of survival. In Goose Creek, we work carefully to deliver patients to a trauma facility or emergency room within that golden hour. While it would seem that Goose Creek’s proximity to area hospitals would make this task easy, consider these factors:
  • Once the crash occurs, how long is it before emergency services are notified?
  • The time for 911 operators to receive the call, determine proper response, and dispatch police, fire, and emergency medical services - Usually 1 to 2 minutes
  • The response of emergency services - 3 to 5 minutes
  • Assessing the scene, initiating patient care, setting up tools and equipment  - 3 to 6 minutes
  • Stabilizing the patient after extrication - 5 to 6 minutes
  • Transport to a trauma center or hospital emergency room - 10 to 20 minutes
Depending on how quick emergency services were notified, the above scenario could take 35 to 40 minutes, leaving us with only 20 minutes to actually perform the extrication.

Safety Feature Hazards
The auto industry continues to improve occupant safety, however these safety features may become a hazard and an obstacle to both rescue personnel and patients. Air bags that have failed to deploy can activate at any time during a rescue, injuring both patients and rescue personnel. Micro alloy steels have shear strengths in excess of 50,000 pounds, requiring the use of advanced hydraulic cutting tools.

As the automotive industry implements technological changes, the City of Goose Creek Fire Department, through ongoing education and equipment upgrades, continues to provide the safest extrication procedures possible.