Safer Cars, Harder Rescues

Posted by Rachel Leigh - email

(WFLX) - While that new car you're driving may make you feel safe on the road, what happens if you end up in a wreck? Now, local fire crews are going high-tech to find the best way to rescue you.

In the U.S., 115 people die everyday in a car crash. That's one death every 13 minutes. Looking at the leftovers of past car crashes in a scrap yard, it seems getting trapped victims to safety quickly is getting tougher.

McKinney, Texas Fire Department Chief Ron Moore knows newer cars are built a lot stronger -- made with high-strength steel made to withstand regular cutting tools. That means precious seconds may tick by while rescue crews identify the best way to rescue you. "Our goal would be to have equipment that is always able to accomplish the task," he said. "Suddenly, we're outgunned."

Therefore, Moore rolled up his sleeves, hit the books and the Web -- turning a year of research on materials science into an online service to help fire crews ID weak spots in car models that are the best places for rescue workers to start.

Rescuers can pull the information up on laptops right at the scene of the accident. "The metals we're having to cut, some of the hydraulic tools nowadays are not able to do that," explained McKinney Fire Captain Kevin Kennedy.

Chief Moore's site, complete with video tutorials, made the job and the challenge of quick medical transport easier. "It's a technique of knowing how to cut the metal and where to cut around the metal."

And that means rescue crews have truly put the "rapid" into "rapid response" keeping victims in less pain and getting them to the ER faster.

For a veteran, like Chief Moore, that's the best part of putting his brain and brawn to work. "I gave the fire service options things we never even thought of, and that's my real triumph."

The color-coded online tool will point out danger zones in 25,000 makes, models and years of vehicles.

If wireless Internet service or a laptop are not available in the rescue truck, the program can be accessed by the 9-1-1 dispatch center and relayed to rescuers.