The East Herkimer Volunteer Fire Department put some new stabilizing equipment into service earlier this month and on Saturday members had a chance to show it off to the public.
The firefighters conducted a demonstration during the department's open house to show how the equipment could be used to stabilize a car following an accident to ensure safety for both passengers and firefighters during extrication and rescue operations.
Fire Chief Ben Keller pointed out that the car, which had been placed on its side with a mannequin inside to represent a passenger, could drop back onto its wheels or onto its roof during a rescue operation and cause further injury to the person inside or injure emergency personnel. In this case, the "passenger" had his arm trapped under the vehicle. Once the vehicle was stabilized and the glass knocked out of the windows, the equipment was used to lift the car slightly to pull the arm out. One of the firefighters climbed inside the vehicle to assist the passenger and prevent further injury while other firefighters used the Jaws of Life - a hydraulic tool that serves as a giant pair of scissors - to remove the roof from the vehicle. The passenger was taken out on a backboard.
Keller advised those watching to always wear their seatbelts when riding in a car to avoid being thrown out of the vehicle.
The equipment is versatile, according to Keller. In addition to motor vehicle accidents, it can be used on very heavy equipment or in situations such as structure or trench collapse.
"Little Falls and Herkimer County have the same type of equipment," said Keller. That means the various sets can be combined as needed for use in emergency situations.
Purchasing the stabilizing equipment was a joint project of the fire district and fire company, he said. The fire company donated money raised during its annual fund drive.
Funds from Saturday's event will be used for a different sort of project.
The department is working to place a memorial somewhere on fire department grounds. The first phase of the project will cost some $15,000, Keller said. After that, the memorial may be expanded with park benches and other items.
"We've been here 82 years," said Keller. "We thought it was time to pay our respects to those who have gone before."
In addition to the demonstration and a chicken barbecue, which sold out, there was a dunking tank and a fire safety house. The Ladies Auxiliary sponsored a bake sale and Chinese auction, according to Sandy Mihevc, of the Auxiliary, and there was also a 50-50 raffle.
The chicken barbecue was sold out before 2 p.m.
"Our community gives us great support," said Keller.