Rescue Crews Upgrade Life Saving Equipment

From the moment fire crews arrived at the scene of this 18 car pileup on Highway 99 near Kingsburg last week they knew this would be a job for the "Jaws of Life".

One injured female driver was trapped inside her mangled car for almost an hour until crews were able to cut through the metal and rush her onto an ambulance.

Captain Jon Brothers, Cal Fire, says "This type of tools that we are taking delivery of today was very instrumental in being able to work to save the lives that were saved."

Eight more of these life-saving tools are now part of the standard rescue equipment for area fire departments.

Reedley, Selma, and Orange Cove have each received one to augment what they currently have. Fresno County received two and north central fire got three.

Firefighters say these new Jaws of Life are lighter, yet more powerful, the most advanced in the market.

"They are actually operating at a higher working pressure--that enables us to cut into larger pieces of steel to effect a rescue on a vehicle that we might have otherwise not might have been able to access," says Captain Brothers.

Funding for the equipment comes from a $224,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety for which the departments applied for together..

Chief Jerry Isaak, Reedley Fire Department, says "We've had fundraisers in the past where we have elicited community help to buy our first and second set of jaws-- which we still utilize today."

For Reedley's fire department it means now both of their front line engines will be fully-equipped with the life-saving machines.

"In the unfortunate event that we have two concurrent situations, we will be able to handle them much more effectively," says Chief Isaak.

The City of Fresno, Coalinga and Kingsburg also want in on the action.

They have joined the other fire departments in applying for another grant this year so they too can continue to upgrade their rescue equipment.

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