Firefighters use engine to pull apart wrecked car, extricate driver in crash
The driver of the car was pinned after the head-on crash and could not be freed with conventional methods
MassLive.com, Springfield, Mass.
WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — When the Jaws of Life don’t work and a man is dying, a little ingenuity and a big engine could prove to be the best combination.
West Springfield and Westfield firefighters pulled a crashed vehicle apart with a fire truck to extricate a seriously injured driver Wednesday, said West Springfield Lt. Andrew Lyne. Paramedics were worried he might not live through the episode, Lyne said.
As West Springfield firefighters were called to a large blaze at the Courtyard by Mariott hotel on Riverdale Street Wednesday afternoon, one engine was sent to the report of a head-on crash on Prospect Avenue just before 3 p.m.
Lyne, the commander of Engine 2, said responders found a car and a large dumpster-hauling truck had collided head-on. The impact of the crash dislodged the engine of the car, spinning it 180 degrees and pushing it into the passenger compartment — something Lyne said he has never seen in 28 years as a firefighter. The front bodywork of the car was strewn across the road.
The driver was pinned in the wreckage by the steering wheel. The driver suffered multiple fractures in the collision and was in excruciating pain. He was not tolerating the conditions in the wreckage and did not have long to live, Lyne said.
Firefighters first used Jaws of Life pneumatic tools to remove the doors and tried to push the dashboard and steering column away from the victim, but that only caused him more pain.
West Springfield responders called for help, but assistance had to come from Westfield as other West Springfield units battled the Riverdale Street fire.
After conventional techniques for extrication did not work, firefighters from the two cities wrapped a chain around the car’s steering column and attached it to the tow hook on the bumper of one of the fire engines. The fire engine backed away from the car, slowly pulling the dashboard out and up just enough to allow firefighters to slide the victim out of the wreckage.
The injured man was transported to the Baystate Medical Center, where he underwent surgery, Lyne said. The driver of the other vehicle was not injured.
The West Springfield Police Accident Reconstruction Unit is investigating the crash.
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