Rockport Fire Department trains with new extrication equipment

By Dwight Collins | Sep 24, 2013
Photo by: Dwight Collins Rockport Fire Chief Jason Peasley spreads open the door of a Dodge Durango with a new extrication tool during training at Camden Exxon Sept. 19.

Camden — More than a dozen Rockport firefighters converged on Camden Exxon Sept. 19 for training on the new extrication equipment that will be used to free victims from their vehicles after a serious crash.

“New equipment always brings out a little extra excitement in the team,” Fire Chief Jason Peasley said in an email. “We had 15 members show up, including Steve Laite and Mike Eaton, who previously where members of the old [Camden First Aid Association] access team.”

Rockport Fire Department purchased the hydraulic tools and generator from Holmatro, a Maryland-based company. Along with the equipment purchase, Holmatro staff provides training for its proper use.

Peasley added, “Mike [Eaton] has been working with extrication equipment for 25-plus years and is a valuable member to have on board to help train the newer members. Steve [Laite] has been around this kind of equipment and vehicles his entire life and is a great asset for us to have.”

The equipment is ready and several firefighters are trained for immediate use, Peasley said. Seven department members have completed Holmatro-provided training and another six will complete the course soon.

A void was created after the closure of Camden First Aid, leaving local departments in search of a solution for extrication. At the beginning of September, Peasley was authorized to purchase the equipment using a surplus in the town’s budget.

The town budgeted $48,000 to fund emergency medical services, of which only $12,000 was required for a new contract with North East Mobile Health Services. The money for the equipment will come from the $36,000 surplus in EMS line in the current budget; the cost of the basic extrication package is $30,000, Peasley previously said.

The Holmatro equipment is easier to use and transport, sets up quickly and has more power than previously-used hydraulic extrication tools, Peasley said.

“It's light weight, portable and extremely efficient,” he said.

Peasley said the tools are extremely quiet and easy to maintain because instead of using traditional lubricants, the equipment uses mineral oil, allowing for easy clean up with soap and water.

Peasley said the purchase of the potentially life-saving equipment wouldn't have been possible without the community and Rockport Select Board, who understand the need for Rockport to have its own equipment.

“We average over 60 car accidents a year with over half of those causing major damage to the vehicle or vehicles,” he said.

Previously, Camden First Aid's Access Team owned the only set of extrication tools and responded to crashes in Camden, Hope, Lincolnville and Rockport.

Rockport Fire Department plans to continue to train with the neighboring towns on extrication and learn to work as a team, Peasley said. Rockland, Camden, Rockport and Lincolnville all now have extrication equipment; Camden's — purchased in March — is identical to Rockport's.

Peasley added. “I’d like to thank Rockland and Camden fire departments for their coverage over the past three months while we were in the process of researching and purchasing the new Holmatro equipment.”

Rockport Assistant Chief John Wickenden, left, sets up new extrication equipment, while firefighters Justin Ford, center, and Greg Rollins look on. Also pictured is Mike Easton. (Photo by: Dwight Collins)
New Holmatro extrication equipment purchased by Rockport Fire Department is nearly twice as fast as its predecessor. (Photo by: Dwight Collins)
Rockport firefighter Robbie Ames removes a windshield during extrication training Sept. 19 at Camden Exxon. (Photo by: Dwight Collins)
Greg Rollins, left, and Steve Laite discuss strategy for removing a roof from a car during extrication training by Rockport Fire Department Sept. 19. (Photo by: Dwight Collins)
A hydraulic ram is used to make room between the driver's seat and dashboard during Rockport Fire Department extrication training Sept. 19. (Photo by: Dwight Collins)
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