Walworth firefighters Giese, Capt. Waswo, Capt. Baxter, firefighters E. Rowland, Lewis, Rollins and probationary D. Carpenter train on a vehicle at O’Neillz Automotive Aug. 25. This portion of the training had them practice using cribbing to secure the vehicle to prevent it from moving while working on the vehicle. (Penny Gruetzmacher photo)

Walworth auto shop donates vehicles to fire department

By Penny Gruetzmacher

Correspondent

Last week, members of the Walworth Fire Department made an extended stop at O’Neillz Automotive in Walworth. They weren’t there to have a vehicle serviced, but for what could be considered a much more important task –training in an effort to help them when responding to crashes.

O’Neillz is at 205 Madison St. in Walworth. Owner Patrick O’Neillz invited the fire department to work on two vehicles he was donating to them for training purposes.

He said he’s had the vehicles ready for the fire department for a while but the training was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m happy to help out the fire department this way,” he said. “

The vehicles he donated were a 1994 Ranger pickup truck and a 2003 Toyota Eco racecar that O’Neillz had driven in the past.

There were tarps laid out near the vehicles and the race car was initially on its side. Some members of the community gathered at a safe distance to watch the action at the local automotive shop.

This was a training exercise that allowed longtime department members to show their skills and some of the newer recruits to safely learn new skills.

Mike Kahl, Walworth Deputy Chief of Fire Operations, talked about the reason for this exercise.

Kahl said there is what’s described as the “golden hour” of time from being in a car accident and making it to the hospital for treatment.

“The quicker that the person can get safely extracted from the vehicle, the better the chance of saving them,” he explained.

Department members followed several procedures in the training and took their time teaching the recruits how to safely deal with, and access, vehicles that are involved in a crash.

A large spotlight on the top of a fire engine was used to light the scene, not unlike what would be used on a real crash scene that happens outside of daylight hours.

The firefighters started working with the truck first and placed a dummy in the driver’s seat to make the scene – and their response – feel more realistic. The first order of business was stabilizing the truck with cribbing.

After it was stable, the Jaws of Life were used to get into the passenger side and safely removed the dummy from the damaged truck. Once experienced firefighters demonstrated, the recruits were given the opportunity to perform the same rescue using the Jaws of Life.

Next up was the car, which the crew moved onto its side and used twist lock stabilizers to keep it steady.

After everyone had practiced stabilizing the car, they safely put it upright and showed how to puncture the tires, remove pieces of the car, take out the windshield and remove the doors.

The fire department continued to make safety a priority during the training including giving all who were within close proximity safety glasses and then cutting off the roof of the car.

O’Neillz said he has two more vehicles that will be used by the fire department in a future training exercise. For that training, the vehicles will be lit on fire repeatedly to allow Walworth firefighters the opportunity to practice distinguishing them.

According to O’Neillz, this was a great way to help out the fire department and the community as a whole because the skills gained from these exercises will be used in real life situations by members of the fire department.

He also encourages other automotive shops in the area to consider doing the same, if they’re able, to support their local fire department.

The Walworth Fire Department currently has 33 members on its roster.

 
 

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