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Tuesday, March 26 , 2019, 1:51 am | Fair 50º

 
 
 
 

Santa Barbara County Fire Department Puts New Rescue Equipment to the Test

Crews use tools in drills and to extricate driver after rollover accident; Equipment replaces aging tools meant for 20- to 30-year-old cars

Santa Barbara County firefighters use new extrication equipment to rescue a driver from a SUV after a rollover accident on Thursday. Click to view larger
Santa Barbara County firefighters use new extrication equipment to rescue a driver from a SUV after a rollover accident on Thursday.  (Ryan Cullom / Noozhawk photo)

The Santa Barbara County Fire Department has a new arsenal of rescue equipment it has started deploying to auto-accident extrications and other emergencies.

The hydraulic tools, produced by international equipment manufacturer Holmatro, were put to work last week in a training session the department held at Steelhead Auto Recycling in Goleta.

The drills simulated real-time responses to vehicle accidents where occupants are trapped inside their cars, County Fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni said.

Steelhead Auto Recycling routinely donates old cars for these types of uses, he said, as do Goleta’s Thomas Towing and similar companies around the county.

The new equipment is used heavily in extricating people from cars after crashes, and include “spreaders,” often known as Jaws of Life, and cutters, “basically big gnarly scissors” that Zaniboni said “can literally cut a car in half.”

Holmatro’s equipment, he added, is lighter, stronger and more powerful than the fire department’s previous rescue toolbox, which was over 20 years old and was developed for vehicles that were 20 to 30 years old.

Today’s cars, especially high-end ones, are more durably built and more difficult to cut into after a crash, he said.

A driver had minor injuries after a rollover accident on Highway 101 in Goleta Thursday but firefighters used new tools to cut through the car and rescue him from the vehicle. Click to view larger
A driver had minor injuries after a rollover accident on Highway 101 in Goleta Thursday but firefighters used new tools to cut through the car and rescue him from the vehicle. (Ryan Cullom / Noozhawk photo)

“Every fire station in the county, as far as County Fire goes, has a Holmatro tool on that frontline engine,” Zaniboni said. “We don’t have to get (to an accident) and wait for another engine to get there with a tool.”

Even as firefighters were training on the new equipment, the tools were being deployed for real emergencies.

An extensive extrication was required Thursday morning to free the driver of an SUV that rolled off the southbound Highway 101 on-ramp at Los Carneros Road, Zaniboni said.

The driver made it out with only minor injuries, but only after the hefty new tools cut the roof off his Dodge Durango.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

The County Fire Department’s new equipment is lighter and more powerful, which is necessary to cut through newer, more durable vehicles, officials said. Click to view larger
The County Fire Department’s new equipment is lighter and more powerful, which is necessary to cut through newer, more durable vehicles, officials said.  (Ryan Cullom / Noozhawk photo)

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