Citizens’ Hose Company gets grant for life-saving equipment

From left, firefighters Isaac Hankins, Mike O’Neil and Wayne Ford cut the roof of a car during a demonstration of the new Hurst EDraulics extrication technology at the Citizens’ Hose Company in Smyrna on Friday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

SMYRNA — About 40 percent of all firefighter calls involve vehicle accidents, and Citizens’ Hose Company No. 1 annually responds to roughly 700 incidents overall.

This year, crews have gone to seven crashes with entrapped victims, including one just a couple days ago. Lesser fender benders sometimes need attention, too.

High-speed crashes on nearby Del. 1 often leave cars and trucks far from the roadway and heavily damaged due to rollovers and impact.

On Friday, the Smyrna fire company unveiled $35,959 worth of cutting-edge extrication equipment to meet the high-stakes demands coming with life-threatening situations. The current so-called “Jaws of Life” will be used when needed, but the new Hurst EDraulics technology is the preferred choice.

Firefighters demonstrated the effectiveness of a new 52-pound spreader and cutter that removed the roof and two doors of a test vehicle within five minutes or less. The battery-operated device engaged in just a few seconds, something that might have taken minutes with similar gasoline-powered equipment.

Through a grant by the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation, the fire company has a tool that is easier to maneuver, more mobile, quieter as to not alarm victims while making communication easier, extremely reliable and lacking in the hoses required for older equipment.

“The technology of this moves us light years ahead of were we were before,” said Citizens’ Hose Company Fire Chief P. Francis Hartnett, noting that one person can now more efficiently do the work it took multiple firefighters to accomplish during extrications.

“There’s no hoses, no motors, no issues.”

Citizens’ Hose Company firefighter Tyler Thompson explains the importance of saving time with the new extrication device Friday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

The simplicity of operation allows first responders to rapidly take control of the critical first five minutes of any emergency response. The goal is to safely remove a victim from entrapment so arriving medical personnel can begin treatment as quickly as possible.

Two years ago, firefighter Mark Blair began a grant-writing process to the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation that eventually brought five failed requests before a sixth one was approved. Delmar Fire Chief Shawn Johnson was instrumental in assisting Mr. Blair in providing cost updates and requirements to meet.

Firehouse Subs area representative Bob Lowe presented the fire company’s case to the company’s Public Safety Foundation in Florida to help secure the OK.

‘It’s a very worthy cause and I appreciate Bob helping us out,” Mr. Blair said.

Answered Mr. Lowe, “We hope it makes Smyrna a safer town and if you ever use it helps you out.”

The versatile extrication equipment can also be used in a wide array of non-vehicle calls, whether it be a residential calamity or industrial rescue.

“It has many, many uses,” Chief Hartnett said.

The Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation has distributed approximately $37.7 million in 501(c)(3) charity grants to first responders and public safety organizations in 47 states, Puerto Rico and Canada, including over $62,000 in Delaware.

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