Sponsored by HURST Jaws of Life
By Dalan Zartman for FireRescue1 BrandFocus
The increasing prevalence of high and ultra-high strength steel in vehicle construction, pneumatically- and pyrotechnically-driven airbag and restraint safety systems have led to fantastic improvements in driver and passenger safety and, with the increasing popularity of fully electric and hybrid vehicles, cars are getting more and more energy efficient. Despite these positive benefits, these advancements can present additional safety risks for drivers and their potential rescuers in the event of a crash that requires extrication.
In addition, with new car technology pushing rescue tools to their operational limits if older in design, it is imperative that tools be kept in top working order via regular annual maintenance. In fact, this is addressed in the recent release of NFPA 1937, the new standard on the Selection, Care, and Maintenance of powered rescue tools. And most importantly, it’s imperative that first responders be trained in their use.
HURST has taken these trends into consideration in building a new line of next-generation extrication tools that keep up with these changes in automotive technology and that make them safer to use. Its eDRAULIC 3.0 water-tolerant technology features improvements in speed, power and now offers a hands-free SMART dashboard.
Before we jump into the three categories of improvements, let me provide a general overview of the new HURST eDRAULIC 3.0 changes. On the surface, this looks like the same eDRAULIC Watertight Extrication Tool (EWXT) line that the fire and rescue community have globally embraced. This is the same 28 v 5.0 or 9.0 ah battery platform the same unique blade geometry, and the same radically aggressive tips on the strongest spreaders on the market, and the same telescopic ram with angular working tips. What’s new?
TAKING A PEEK UNDER THE HOOD
On closer review, you will find the power indicator dashboard on the top of the tool looks a little fancier on the outside but under the hood it has undergone a complete upgrade.
The new SMART dashboard where the power button is located has multiple indicators that communicate roll warnings, power level, and battery status. The new 3.0 platform is still fully submergible but offers both freshwater and saltwater options. The throttle control also received a hidden gem of an upgrade. It now has a user-controlled turbo function with intuitive safety management.
So, what looks unaltered on the outside, has been significantly improved on the inside – retaining all of the desirable features of the previous EWXT line up while upgrading all of the needed improvements for the ever-evolving world of modern extrication demands.
MAKING IT SAFER TO OPERATE AT RADICAL SPEED
In my opinion, speed is the greatest challenge tool manufacturer’s face today. Modern day vehicles are constructed predominantly with high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel. These alloys have incredibly high-tensile strength and are incredibly hard, rigid and lightweight. These are very desirable properties when building a car for safety and fuel efficiency reasons.
However, when you are faced with the challenge of cutting and displacing these structural systems during an extrication, you find that your tools react in new and unpredicted ways and the vehicles are requiring new approaches and techniques to achieve the openings we are trying to make.
Because the pillars on new vehicles and the door materials/hinge and latch connections are so strong, extrication tools have to develop tremendous force to fracture these metals and make sure the metals don’t give or compress and shear. These tool movements are taking longer than we are used to because the tool has to build up so much force before a response occurs in the vehicle material. The solution, simplistically, is to develop more speed in order to get through the material quicker.
However, speed translates to more velocity when making the movement, which means the reaction of the material and the tool will be more violent. I have seen a significant uptick in injuries with tools operating at max speed and power on hard cars. The missing piece to this puzzle would be an intuitive tool that can operate at turbo level speeds but dial back to nominal speed when significant resistance is encountered.
HURST Jaws of Life eDRAULIC 3.0 tools are the first lineup to achieve this performance feature. Rescuers can now fully engage the control throttle and push the tool into turbo mode for radical speed. But when the tool hits a point of resistance that represents dangerous reaction levels, the tool drops back into a safe operating speed to complete the movement. From my perspective, this is critical for safely extricating patients from modern-construction vehicles.
See the eDRAULIC 3.0 in action:
GENERATE POWER TO CUT MODERN METAL
You always have to sift past the junkyard training sessions with older vehicles and the sales pitches and marketing materials to get to the realities of tool strength. At the end of the day, extrication tools are always trying to play catch up with the vehicle industry because it is always one step ahead with metal technology, while the tool industry is stuck reacting to vehicle improvements and trying to keep pace.
To determine an extrication tools’ true strength, you have to start with the NFPA cut sheets. The raw numbers produced show lab-based results with optimal tool positioning and allow end-users to have a scientific value for strength and working capacity of the tools.
The next assessment tool is real-world extrication on modern day vehicles. This second assessment tool is often difficult to pull off for many fire departments. The real-world assessment allows end users to identify tool capacities when the tools are not in optimal positions and can help you identify where they will stall out or fracture blades or lack the necessary power to effectively spread and separate materials.
Although training first responders in the use of these tools is critical, the improvements in strength ensures that awkward or weak positioning of the tools still results in effective material movement.
DESIGNED FOR SAFETY AND RELIABILITY
The key design changes in the new 3.0 tools produce a safer and more reliable rescue tool. The new Roll Warning Feature alerts the user if the cutter blades are tip-loaded or positioned improperly around the metal, causing axial rotation and blade separation, and potentially progressing toward blade damage or fracture. The power button will turn red based on an internal gyroscopic sensor and allow the user to reposition the tool before damaging or breaking a blade.
Extreme heat and extreme cold are the primary performance reducers with Lithium-ion batteries. HURST continues to move the goal lines with each generation of eDRAULIC tools to extend their battery and tool tolerance for temperature extremes. For example, most commercially available batteries are programmed to shut down at 104 F internal temp for safety reasons, a common possibility in much of the country during the summer. The HURST EWXT/E3 batteries are specifically designed for the rigorous environments of rescue and can tolerate an internal operating temperature of up to 131 F, far higher than any other rescue battery on the market. This ensures greater overall tool reliability and reduces environmental condition concerns when assessing rescue operations. The Power Level indicator allows the user to recognize max loading of the tool and either continue to drive or reposition for a cut or spread with less resistance. The battery status indicator on the SMART Dashboard also frees the user up to stay focused on the work at hand without having to access the rear of the tool to see their battery life.
When you combine all of these upgrades, the result is a tool platform that was already the most capable on the market and pushed it into a much more intelligent tool that interacts with the rescuer. This makes the rescuer more equipped, more capable, and more effective. When the end goal is saving lives, the new HURST eDRAULIC 3.0 tool line definitively checks the goal box.