Project Blue Eagle students learn vehicle extrication techniques

Project Blue Eagle students learn vehicle extrication techniques
Shawnee Mission School District

Fire Science students enrolled in the Shawnee Mission School District’s public safety Signature Program, Project Blue Eagle, learned how to extricate victims of vehicle crashes in a hands-on training.

Prior to the training exercise, instructor and retired firefighter, Ed Morrison, explained how extrication equipment works, how to grip the equipment properly, and the safety features of different vehicles. Morrison shared there is a limited amount of time, known as the “golden hour,” to extricate victims of vehicle crashes from the car, provide medical care in the field, and get the patient to the hospital and into surgery.

Instructor and former fire captain Mike Nash led students through the extrication process. Practicing on a donated car, students worked together to safely knock out windows at the district’s Career and Technical Center (CTC). They then used equipment, including hydraulic- powered spreaders and metal cutters to remove the car doors, remove the car roof, and complete a dash-roll maneuver.

Hands-on learning is important, because it shows students what professional equipment can do and helps them become comfortable using those resources, Morrison added. He noted students often start the extrication training timidly, and as they work together as a team, they grow in confidence and overcome the fear of making a mistake.

At the end of the class, the car was dismantled, and the students were proud of their work, junior Ryan Owens shared. Working with the professional equipment was the best part, Owens added. He was surprised to learn how easy it is for the equipment to lift different parts of the car. “It was insane,” Owens expressed.

Owens didn’t always have a passion for firefighting. As a freshman he wasn’t sure what career path he wanted to pursue. He saw the intro class in fire science and decided to try it out. Owens shared it has been an amazing experience. He would recommend anyone who thinks they might have an interest in the fire service to give it a try.

“The instructors are awesome and having the opportunity to come to the CTC and be able to destroy cars and work with equipment is amazing,” Owens shared. “You would not do something like this in a normal high school class.”