The School Newspaper of John Carroll School

The Patriot

Keep it Real: Editor volunteers on the scene

News Editor Kelly Foulk keeps life interesting. Don’t be surprised if she shows up at school with a penguin costume on (five minutes late, of course). She does what she wants, when she wants.

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I never expected that I would be able to destroy a car. And no, I was not in an accident. In October, I received training on how to rescue victims from car accidents.  In the future, I hope to serve as a volunteer firefighter. I wanted to gain the first-hand experience to see if I had what it took to be a firefighter.

The question: Could I, a 5-foot-four 120 pound teenage girl, actually pop off a car door? The answer: Yes, I could.

It was possible, as long as I had the assistance of Hurst rescue tools. These tools are commonly used by emergency responders to help emergency personnel cut metal and pry open car doors.

Normally, emergency personnel are the only people who have the privilege of using Hurst cutter, spreader, and combi tools, but during this training, I was able to use them. With the help of several volunteer firefighters, I learned how to saw off a roof, pop off a door, and detach the hood of a car.

After five minutes of using one of the Hurst tools, I was not able to hold it steady on my own. When prying off a door, you have to hold the tool steady at a certain angle so that the door doesn’t pop off and ram you in the stomach. It was hard because the tool was so heavy and made my arms tremble. One of the volunteer firefighters had to stand right beside me to help make sure it didn’t slip.

Through this experience I gained a greater appreciation for our firefighters. Imagine trying to cut a straight line with a pair of 10-pound scissors. That’s what using the Hurst cutter tool was like.

When using the tools, I also had to wear thick gloves and safety glasses that continued to fog up. Flipping a simple five-inch switch was a struggle. My fingers were nearly double their normal size with the gloves on, and I could not see through the foggy glasses.

I didn’t think I would ever be able to pop the door off. Feeling the door finally give way after what seemed like hours of struggling was so satisfying that I nearly dropped the tool on my feet. Fortunately, I didn’t, or I would no longer have toes.

While this was simply a training situation, and no one was truly in danger, the atmosphere was still intense. There was pressure to work as quickly and efficiently as possible in order to get the “victim” out as quickly as possible.

I cannot even imagine how much more pressure there would have been if there was actually an injured victim inside the car screaming, or if a loved one had been standing nearby crying. I don’t know how firefighters do it.

Many of the firefighters told me during this experience that they don’t do it for the thanks. Very few people ever thank them, so if they did it for the recognition, they would be long gone. They do it out of the goodness of their hearts. Merely knowing that they are helping gives them the strength to continue trying to pry off a door, even when the tool is so heavy they can scarcely pick it up.

The dedication and passion of our volunteer firefighters is inspiring. I know that I will never forget this experience.

Kelly Foulk is a News Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.

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The School Newspaper of John Carroll School
Keep it Real: Editor volunteers on the scene