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Emo firefighters practice with ‘jaws of life’

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Applying about 35,000 pounds of pressure to the side of an old K car, Emo volunteer firefighter J.P. Winik tore a door right off its hinges.

Winik and several fellow firefighters from Emo and Fort Frances spent about two hours last Thursday dismantling the vehicle using powerful hydraulic tools—including the “jaws of life” and cutters—which, down the road, they may have to use to save a life in a real emergency situation.

“This is a joint training session for the two departments,” noted Fort Frances Fire Chief Steve Richardson, who also is the district fire co-ordinator. He donned his suit to help volunteers use the equipment.

The session, led by Emo Chief Rob Johnson with the help of Chief Richardson and Fort Frances firefighters Kirk Armstrong and Rod Davis, gave volunteers the chance to use the costly hydraulic equipment which is stored at the Fort Frances Fire Department.

“We try to do monthly training sessions, especially with the volunteers, in order to keep their skills,” said Chief Johnson.

The session included popping the front and back windshield and side windows, ripping open locked or jammed doors, cutting off the roof, and rolling the dash—all done to free injured passengers in serious traffic accidents.

The “jaws of life” and other hydraulic rescue equipment is kept in Fort Frances, Rainy River, and Atikokan, and is on standby to serve each section of the district.

“The majority of the calls are simple but we have these available to us,” noted Chief Johnson. “In Emo, we carry manual tools but it’s slower and takes longer.

“This unit here is working through our Rainy River Mutual Aid Association,” he added.

By the end of the session, the car looked like a severely-damaged convertible—leaving plenty of room for crews to extract any would-be crash victims.

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