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Jaws of life: How EMS & fire fighters rescue people from major accidents

According to New Orleans EMS, last year their rescue technicians performed 37 technical rescues. That's fewer than most years.

NEW ORLEANS — It's one of the scariest situations you hope to never experience: Being trapped inside a car after a car crash, but the reality is crashes like this happen almost weekly just in New Orleans and first responders want to make sure they're ready. 

We got an inside look at the training that goes into vehicle extrications.

"It can be very scary if you're a victim of a car crash," said New Orleans EMS Deputy Chief of Operations, Christopher Keller.

According to New Orleans EMS, last year their rescue technicians performed 37 technical rescues. That's fewer than most years.

"Where we had to actually cut people out of vehicles," said New Orleans EMS Deputy Chief of Special Operations and Logistics Cedric Palmisano. "These accidents do happen quite often."

That's why in a joint training, New Orleans EMS rescue technicians and NOFD rescue teams are practicing vehicle extrications. A training refresher like this happens once a year.

"When a real accident happens, we're going to be working together," Palmisano said.

With jaws of life rescue tools and junk cars donated from towing companies, the responders are removing car doors, roofs and hoods. Those are all scenarios they've had to use to get patients out of crashed vehicles.

"Stabilizing vehicles on their side, the Hurst rescue tools, spreaders, cutters, rescue jacks, all of those are integral in rescuing a patient when they are trapped," Keller said.

Keller remembers many rescues from his career where he's put this training into practice.

"I can think back to when we had a 40 car pile up in the east during the March fires years ago and it was quite a challenge," he said.

It's training you hope you'll never have witness in use, but if you do these first responders are working hard to make sure they're ready.

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