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Chainsaws for Auto extrication

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  • Chainsaws for Auto extrication

    Just wanted to share a call we had. 3 car MVA. 1 car, airborne, hits conversion van causing it to rollover, left resting rightside up with tranny on the bridge guard rail, 2 wheels hanging over water. Car 3 hits van from rear (no injuries). Victim in car 1 was semi-conscious up to first arriving unit. Trauma code there after.

    Van has 4 people trapped. Rescue pumper 1 works on car 1, Rescue pumpers 2 and 3 work on van. Van is stabilized immediately. Problem being access to A&B post on passenger side. We used a Stihl chainsaw to cut centerline front to C-post, then down to window. The chainsaw cut through the conversion van roof like butter. It worked much faster than Cip-saws and cutters. The 4 patients were trauma evals and were flown to level 1 trauma centers. They Survived.

    Funny thing is, that the Rescue crew had practiced that technique in station training. When the oppertunity arose they identified the need and did it safely.

    Interior rescue was also one of their own crew because they knew the path of the saw and could provide for the safe use over patients. Handlines where in place as well as ICS.

    This is not something I would advise others to do, just something that worked for us. Risk -vs- gains dictated we attempt this rescue.


  • #2
    You say conversion van. What was the roof made of?

    I know saw blades and chains are expendable in a rescue situation. What did the chain look like after this incident?


    • #3
      Can we all say Sawzall. Definately alot safer and made to cut the products in a van roof, Metal, fiberglass, etc. I am sure it was fun and exciteing to make all that noise using you big tool, but think of the noise you created for the people traped inside. They were just involved in a traumatic accident, now scare the hell out of them again. THINK SAFTEY

      [This message has been edited by MTNRESQ (edited June 24, 2000).]


      • #4
        THINK SAFETY? If the conversion retrofit was made out of fiberglass, MTNRSQ's criticism is way out of line. ICS in place, firefighting lines deployed, crews doing an evolution they had practiced, patients protected by a crew member familiar with the procedure? How much safer can an inherently dangerous situation be made? Noise is way down on the list from prompt surgical intervention. Trauma eval pt's are load and go in order to stay within your GOLDEN HOUR. Paramedics cannot perform surgery in the field and there all 4 pt's could have been expected to need it. Congratulations on Improvising, overcoming, adapting- 4 recovering patients says it all. CaptDan LEMT-P


        • #5
          Antone else?

          Anyone else tried this?

          I'm assuming it's not a standard chain on the saw and the roof is not sheet metal? Anyone shed some light on this?

          I have heard of a pretty horiffic 2x bus head on, here in Australia, many years ago where chainsaws were used to get to the live, but trapped casualties- don't know if it's true, though....


          • #6
            I say good job, ALL PATIENTS SURVIVED, with all of the yelling, radio noise, pumpers and generators running, the saws cutting through the roof probably didnt bother them one bit.

            We did this in practice with our Ventmaster chainsaw, on a metal car roof, worked very well, not my first choice for stable priority two patients, but unstable priority ones may dictate this tool.

            As for noise, yes it was a little loud, about the same or a little less than a air chisel, and I bet nobody on this forum would think twice about using one of them for this scenario.

            If you are worried about the depth of cut, we left our depth gauge on the bar, and did not have to worry about going more than one inch deeper then the metal that we were cutting.


            • #7
              I always like to preach about having more than one option to accomplish your goal. Not sure I would want to grab a chain saw right away, but if plan A failed, it would be one of my other options. As for noise, before hydraulic extrication tools came along, the air chissel and the K-12 saw were common tools for such tasks. K-12 and chain saws make pretty much the same noise. Just like with anything else, you need to tell your patients what to expect before, during and sometimes after you do it.

              My question about this is, did the cloth and padding in the roof liner create any problems with jamming the saw with build-up?
              Richard Nester
              Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.

              "People don't care what you know... until they know that you care." - Scott Bolleter


              • #8
                I will be the first to stand on the "post" and say I would never think of using a chain saw for cutting metal. Having unintentionally cut through nails in house siding during a fully involved fire, I would not be the first to recommend this as a "first on" action.

                However, if this was something that we practiced and tried, then maybe we would use it.

                I have to second the big questions: 1) what did the chain look like when you were finished?

                2) did you use a metal specific type chain?

                Otherwise, I would have to say, WELL DONE, BUT IN DOING SO YOU WERE VERY VERY VERY LUCKY.
                If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

                "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

                "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

                Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

                impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

                IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.


                • #9
                  Malahat 27,not in all cases.A Cutters edge vent saw with the bullet chain will slice sheetmetal and fiberglass like butter with no noticable damage to the chain (It will require resharpening),Plus with the adjustable bar guide you can set the depth of cut.Would not be my first choice but it is a viable option with that particular tool.T.C.


                  • #10
                    What did the chain look like afterwards? I would not care. The chain is easily replaceable over a human life.

                    Can't say that I would have even thought of trying this, just simply never came to mind. But, as always, something to try on a drill or two and see what results are. Probably would not be one of my first thoughts, but who knows, it's one to keep in mind.

                    Try it at training, see if it works. Always looking for different ideas...
                    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?


                    • #11
                      What did the chain look like afterwards? I would not care. The chain is easily replaceable over a human life.

                      Q: What's the surest way to ruin a chainsaw blade?

                      A: Cut brush with it.

                      Little buggers give a lot a load/no load on the chain, it loosens as it heats up, all of a sudden something slips under the chain, chain at full RPM is levered off the sprocket, breaks, and you got a good cut in your jeans. Not that that's ever happened to me. Not once. 10, 12 times maybe...

                      I'd be concerned of similiar problems cutting a car -- stuff getting caught under the blade. It is an interesting solution, just gotta be careful with it and really make sure the blade is tightly tensioned and doesn't get loose on you. Otherwise the patients you're protecting with the 1" deep guard on the saw may suddenly be getting whacked with 36 inches of chain that just flew off the saw.
                      IACOJ Canine Officer


                      • #12
                        I'm with 27 again. I wouldn't want to do it. 'Course, I haven't practiced it either.

                        However, the technique was successful, so I say good job.

                        As for how the chain looked--I wouldn't care if it looked brand new after that. I would replace it anyway.
                        Bryan Beall
                        Silver City, Oklahoma USA


                        • #13
                          I'm all for getting the job done the best you can with what you have to work with HOWEVER:

                          Who came up with the idea to even train with a chain saw for vehicle crashes ? ( this is John Wayne style rescue work ) This is 2002 and most of us have past this style of increasing the hazards of the job for us as well as the people we are trying to help.

                          Just my thoughts


                          • #14
                            I have no experience with a ventmaster chainsaw (anyone want to send us a free sample for evaluation??)but I do know from its advertising that it is made to cut sheet metal as well as wood. This takes a bit of getting my head around after keeping chainsaws and metal well seperate as a basic safety rule. There is no doubt in my mind that the noise, vibration, particles and danger of chain comming off are all valid safety concerns, but the bottom line is you have a situation where metal needed to be cut and a metal cutting tool was used. Not my first choice either but I wasn't there. MTNRESQ I think it is unfair to suggest that these guys were just "having fun with their big toy". There was obviously more than lip service paid to safety and there had been practice in the technique. This forum means we are now aware of an option we may not have considered for the time that we run out of options. Thanks for sharing your experience with us all. Any feedback from the injured about their own feelings during the rescue could be useful guidance for the future. Well done on your success.
                            Jim Maclean. IACOJ NZ branch


                            • #15
                              I'm with Jim- I think!

                              The concept just takes a bit to get the head around.

                              I too have never used a chainsaw for this type of thing. Maybe a quick cut or disc cutter (What ever name you prefer!) may have been another option.

                              Once again, hard to judge without being there....


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