Ruckersville, VA and Gig Harbor, WA,
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Rescue From The Wreckage

State Farm helps provide life-saving training for first responders

You’re driving to work and you hear sirens. You recognize the sound and immediately pull over. You hope wherever those emergency vehicles are going, the people will be okay.

Every second counts when first responders race to their destination. But what happens when they arrive at the scene and find someone trapped inside tons of snarled steel? How do they get the people out safely? Extrication.

Often, local fire departments and rescue squads have limited budgets. This means limited opportunities to receive vitally important, hands-on extrication training. State Farm is here to help first responders learn the intricacies of extrication from coast to coast.

Salvage Value in Virginia

In collaboration with the National Auto Body Council (NABC) and Holmatro, State Farm helps provide free extrication training for first responders. This is through NABC’s First Responders Emergency Extrication (FREE) program. The insurance company also provides salvage donations for use at training events. This no-cost training is a rare opportunity for hands-on practice on newer vehicles equipped with sophisticated new materials and technologies.

Two training events took place at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Vehicle Research Center in Ruckersville Virginia. First responders were first trained to cut and extricate passengers properly and safely. This was done in vehicles equipped with new technology. The new technology included high strength steels, sophisticated electronics and multiple airbags. This training is vital to protect not only the lives of crash victims, but also the lives of first responders.

“It’s impossible to measure the true impact when State Farm and our industry participate in programs like FREE. It is a very real way we are able to show our true commitment to building safer, stronger, and better educated communities,” shared Elizabeth Clark, a NABC Executive Board member and State Farm leader.

Crunch Time on the West Coast

Crunch Time is a two day extrication training class every September in Gig Harbor, WA. The training program enhances first responders’ skills at emergencies. This includes events such as vehicle collisions, machinery entanglements, parking garage or bridge collapses, and natural disasters.

Participants rotate through 12 different scenarios. They include ones such as school bus extrication, car vs. semi-truck, and vehicles which have plunged into an irrigation canal. Besides patient extrication, participants experience heavy lift scenarios, learn proper use and handling of hydraulic tools, and stabilization techniques.

Working around air bags, cutting through different metal alloys, and computerized panels found in hybrid vehicles pose different safety challenges than just 10 to 15 years ago. Many safety features drivers expect in their vehicles today add safety risks to rescuers.

That’s why fire departments and responder units from Alaska, California and states as far away as Florida send their personnel to the largest training of its kind – Crunch Time.

More than eighty cars were used in September 2016 training. State Farm is one of a handful of sponsors that provide annual grants to keep the program current with the most up-to-date equipment. Since 2003, State Farm has donated more than 85 vehicles to Crunch Time. This includes a hybrid vehicle that was cut open to display the internal components.

“Crunch Time helps students become safer in their rescue attempts. It also teaches them to be more effective at handling emergencies. And even better at handling traumatic events,” shared Lt. TJ Teeple, Technical Rescue Lieutenant at Gig Harbor Fire & Medic One and Incident Commander for Crunch Time.

Lt. Teeple sums up the benefits of extrication training when he says, “The best measurement of success for the program is when firefighters tell us this training has saved lives.”

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