A one-tool-fits-all approach to emergency rescue

Minot Fire Department to purchase battery-powered hydraulic tool with Safe Community grant

Emergency rescues have met their match with a new extrication tool in a North Dakota fire department.

Fire suppression, emergency medical services, ice and water rescue—you name it, Minot Fire Department in Minot, ND does it all.

With these comprehensive services provided to a population of nearly 60,000 people, it seems only fitting for Minot FD to acquire a rescue tool that fits the bill in streamlining all of the department’s emergency efforts.

“Right now, we have a hydraulic pump with hoses, which are quite cumbersome to use,” says Capt. Austin Burns, one of four captains on Minot FD’s B battalion. “They limit our mobility and can pose challenges for us at an accident scene.”

The new equipment is a battery-powered extrication combination tool, which is all the rage in the rescue and extrication world. Those familiar with emergency rescue slang may even know it as a “combi tool.”

Because it eliminates the need for hauling and dragging pumps to a scene, Minot’s new gadget will be as beneficial to the firefighters as it is to people whose lives it saves.

“Prior to this tool, we would use a cutter and spreader to deal with structural collapse or get patients out of a vehicle,” says Burns. “Now, this tool combines those into one, becoming much more user-friendly for our firefighters.”

The technology isn’t necessarily new, as battery-powered fire rescue equipment has been evolving for nearly a decade. Minot Fire Department has waited patiently to invest in a tool of its own, in part due to research developments as well as finding the budget to finally purchase one.

Safe Community First Responder Program

Since its launch, Enbridge's Safe Community program has invested more than US$14.3 million (more than C$18.6 million) in first responder organizations near our pipelines and facilities.

“We’ve been waiting for researchers and manufacturers to work out all the kinks of battery-powered tools,” says Burns. “Now they have done so, and developers have done a really great job doing the research and making sure these tools fit our needs.”

Enbridge’s Safe Community program offers grants for equipment, training and education to first response organizations near our operations and projects. Our recent $7,500 Safe Community grant to Minot Fire Department will help purchase the new combination tool equipment.

According to Captain Burns, the tool will help first responders act within the “golden hour”—and he’s not talking about the prime time for photography before sunset.

In this case, the adage refers to the amount of time it takes to remove a patient from a vehicle following an accident—and the corresponding odds of survival.

“The golden hour means that patients need to be on the operating table within an hour of an accident,” says Burns. “That’s not just transferring them to a paramedic—it’s the patient being physically on the surgery table with a doctor.”

The combi tool will “cut” deep into the time spent on the initial transfer to an ambulance. In addition to the life-saving and clear value added by the battery-powered tool, Burns says the powerful piece of equipment also possesses a “cool” factor.

“The technology for fire rescue has certainly changed from just taking a hose and spraying water to the type of equipment we’re using nowadays. It’s pretty impressive.”