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What Is Vehicle Extrication?


In most dangerous situations, the goal is to remove a person from their surroundings until they reach safety. Think of a burning building. Firefighters will run into the burning building to rescue victims from the fire.

But sometimes, the path to safety isn’t always so clear. The best course of action may be to try to remove the dangerous situation instead of rescuing the victim. That’s why, in the example of a burning building, some firefighters are working to put out the fire while others are running into the building to rescue victims.

In Indiana car accidents, it can be difficult to simply remove the victim from the accident scene. Serious car accidents or semi truck accidents can leave a vehicle crushed beyond recognition. Although the crash happened in just an instant, the danger is far from over.

That’s why rescue teams often have to perform vehicle extrication at car accident scenes. Vehicle extrication is the act of removing the car from around the victim in order to eventually move the victim to safety.

Vehicle extrication is more than just using the tools commonly known as “the Jaws of Life” in the event of an accident. Rescue teams have to consider a variety of different factors to ensure the safety of the victim while they attempt to remove her from the vehicle.

The Golden Hour


When a rescue team arrives at the scene of an Indiana car accident, they’re trying to get the car accident victims to the hospital within the “Golden Hour.”

The Golden Hour is a term coined by the surgeon R Adams Cowley, known as the “Father of Trauma Medicine,” and refers to the first hour following an injury. Although there aren’t any studies to back up the claim, trauma teams across the country subscribe to the belief that it’s best to get their patients cared for within that first hour to increase their chances of recovery and/or survival.

According to the Journal of Emergency Medical Services (JEMS), vehicle extrication is commonly divided into maneuvers. A maneuver could be, for example, a door removal. Each maneuver should take less than five minutes, and the rescue team should have a good idea of how many maneuvers they’ll need to implement before they begin extrication.

CRASH Report


Before rescue teams can begin to remove pieces of the vehicle and free the trapped victims, they must first assess the crash as a whole using the following five steps:

  • Critical information: First, rescue teams must check the victim’s pulse and determine whether or not they’re breathing or getting enough oxygen.
  • Restraints used: Next, rescue teams learn the details of the crash: whether passengers were wearing seat belts, the speed of the crash, the type of impact, etc.
  • Assessment: Rescue teams then can assess the damage to the vehicle, particularly concerning how it might affect removing the crash victims. They can also attempt to account for the medical history of the victims as it’s relevant to the crash—for example, if a person has a prior disability that prevents them from moving from the waist down.
  • Suspected injuries: This is where rescue teams should evaluate victims’ injuries, especially any injuries to the chest, spine, or pelvis.
  • Help needed: Finally, rescue teams are prepared to implement a plan of extrication.

Protecting the Rescuers and the Victims


Car accident scenes are dangerous places for everyone involved. That includes the rescue teams. At any car accident scene, broken glass, fire, risk of electrocution, dangerous fumes, and risk of falling may be present. Rescue teams have to make sure to wear appropriate gear and protection as needed.

Unfortunately, vehicle extrication can pose dangers to the car accident victims as well. Rescue teams often will use hard shields to protect victims from tools and tarps to protect victims from glass. It’s also important to take the height and weight of the car accident victim into account. Larger or taller victims may be experiencing more pressure from the entrapment and may be more difficult to remove.

The State of Your Vehicle Following a Rescue


What’s most important is making sure that the car accident victims are safe. Rescue teams will further damage the vehicle if it’s necessary to ensure the safety of the driver and passengers.

Remember: if your vehicle is mangled enough that vehicle extrication is required in order to remove you from the car accident scene, then it’s safe to assume that your vehicle was no longer functional and needed to be totaled anyway before the vehicle extrication ever began. Don’t place the blame on rescue teams who were doing everything in their power to ensure the safety of those who were injured in the accident.

Still, it can be devastating to have your vehicle totaled if it’s your only source of transportation. If you’re struggling with your property damage claim, you can download our free eBook on property damage by clicking here.

Help from an Indiana Car Accident Attorney

Only severe car accidents or semi truck accidents typically result in the need for vehicle extrication. It can be frightening to be stuck inside of a vehicle and dependent upon EMTs and paramedics using unfamiliar tools to rescue you. However, it’s important to remember that you can trust that the rescue team is doing everything in their power to get you out of your vehicle and safely to the hospital.

If you have to be extricated from a vehicle following an Indiana car accident, chances are that your injuries are severe. You may be wondering how you’ll be able to afford the medical bills that are quickly piling up. An Indiana car accident attorney can help. Call Hensley Legal Group today, or contact us online for a free case review.