Chances are you have heard about a situation in which the Jaws of Life were used to save a person, usually from a car wreck. These tools are standard equipment in the firefighter’s arsenal of equipment. Many people are aware of the Jaws of Life as a tool to cut a person out of a vehicle, however, few are familiar of the types of Jaws of Life or the history behind these lifesaving tools.
The History of the Jaws of Life
A man named George Hurst was the first to patent the hydraulic rescue tool known as the Jaws of Life in 1961. After witnessing a grueling rescue of a stock driver from a crashed the car, Mr. Hurst went to work inventing a tool that would work in a fraction of the time of other tools. At that time, circular saws were usually used to cut open car frames to rescue trapped people.
The problems with the saws were many. Besides being loud and adding to the stress of the accident victim, they were not efficient. True, they did the job, but the time that it took to create a safe opening to pull the victim from the wreckage was long. Additionally, there was always danger, since the saws could create sparks, igniting a fire or causing an explosion.
The hydraulic tools invented by Mr. Hurst eliminated these problems. His tools cut through the metal, and accident victims could be removed from the wreck in just minutes. People were said to be snatched from the “jaws of death” which lead to the naming of Mr. Hurst’s tools – Jaws of Life. Although there are a variety of hydraulic rescue tools on the market today, his are the only ones with the official Jaws of Life name.
Types of Hydraulic Rescue Tools
There are four main types of tools for extricating people from wrecked vehicles. Each has a specific purpose and works in a particular way to help make it possible to get a person out.
When a car frame has been collapsed or compressed, spreaders work like reverse scissors and move apart metal and fiberglass. They are placed in a closed position then they apply outward force, which creates a space for removing the injured person.
Cutters take the place of the traditional circular saw. Like super scissors, cutters use hydraulic pressure to cut through metals to remove obstructions. Unlike the saw, cutters take only moments to make the cut, and they do it without sparks or danger to the victim.
Another tool is the Ram. Just like a battering ram, this tool is used to dislodge parts of wreckage that would otherwise be difficult to remove. It is used for ramming apart sections of debris that pin down a person.
There are also combination tools that make rescue work that much easier. These tools combine cutters and spreaders and the ram. The time saved by having a combination tool on the scene in some instances is the difference between life and death for the victim.
The Jaws of Life have snatched innumerable souls from the “jaws of death” by allowing fast extrication from the wreckage. They are vital to the fire department’s collection of tools. At Frohlich, Gordon & Beason, P.A., we help people with personal injury cases escape the wreckage of a life turned upside down. With an emphasis on excellence and caring, we provide our clients with expert consultation and guidance as we help them navigate the court system. Call us for a complimentary consultation. We service areas in the southwest Florida region, including Englewood, Port Charlotte, and North Port.