By Kevin Thranow
While the rest of Todd County High School’s Emergency Medical Services class was off in Sioux Falls at the state track meet last Friday, the two remaining students, Shanelle Lone Dog and Arvish Bhinder, were learning how to dismantle an automobile.
Mission Volunteer Fire Department chief Clyde Clairmont, who recently took over for Keith Lavery when he stepped down to attend to family matters, conducted the emergency extrication demonstration for the final class session, which is part of Todd County’s dual credit program in conjunction with Western Dakota Tech.
Clairmont started with a few safety basics, such as surveying the scene of the accident and determining if there was any danger to rescuers as well as victims. Then he explained various considerations with regard to the victim’s position and possible injuries. He showed how to stabilize the vehicle and cut power from the battery.
Then he started ripping the car to shreds. With a battery-powered contraption that had the look of a giant metal crab’s claw, Clairmont demonstrated how to position the tool at hinge and latch points to tear the door from the frame of the car and gain access to a victim in the driver’s seat. As the door twisted, the window crumbled into thousands of tempered glass pebbles.
After the front door was removed, Lone Dog donned a fireman’s coat and helmet with a protective face guard, and took a turn with the powerful jaws on the back door. She quickly found out that it wasn’t as easy as it looked. A big part of the process is proper positioning, using the car’s frame to create prying surfaces from which to apply pressure to the targeted areas.
Class instructor Eric Emery, the acting director of the Rosebud Ambulance Service, also gave some pointers on effective technique. According to Emery, the semester-long EMS class at Todd County had seven students this year, four juniors and three seniors. The class covers basic first aid, CPR, and other first-responders skills.