SISSONVILLE, W.Va. -- Firefighters climbed a rocky hillside to gain traction as they pried open the driver's-side door of an overturned car Saturday. It would be their easiest task that night.
Later, they would cut open the door of a car struck by a tractor-trailer and free a person trapped inside from a head-on collision.
About a dozen firefighters gathered for class Saturday to practice these rescue techniques at Sissonville High School during the 2013 Fire and Rescue School.
They learned how to safely extract someone trapped inside vehicles from various kinds of crashes. These scenarios represented common crashes that emergency workers respond to every day in West Virginia.
The car flipped on the hillside is a common crash in the state's more mountainous counties. It almost always causes an entrapment, said Eddie Taylor, chief of the Jane Lew Fire Department and regional extrication and equipment specialist.
Firefighters used a hydraulic extraction tool, which is a large mechanical claw, to work into the car's door and pry it open. Beginning at the overturned roof and working up, firefighters carefully cut off the doors while making sure no metal would cave in. They then brought in large wooden blocks to help preserve the metal's strength. They cut and pried metal for more than an hour to rescue their invisible patient.
Sissonville Fire Department public information officer Tom Miller said that exercise was probably the easiest they would complete. The hardest would be cutting someone out of a two car, head-on collision. The collision resembles two soda cans smashed together, he said.
"Once the vehicle loses all of it's structural integrity, it becomes a much different scenario," Miller said.