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CFD practices life-saving techniques, what you need to know to stay safe after a crash

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Crashes happen nearly every day on our roads and firefighters take each one seriously. This week, Chattanooga firefighters are practicing extrication drills. If you have a life-threatening injury, every minute counts. 
When there's no way out, tools like the "Jaws of Life" help firefighters cut through metal, break down doors and tear off car hoods. Officials say your best chances of survival rely on the "Golden-Hour Rule". After a crash happens, the goal is to get you out safely within 10-15 minutes and to the hospital for treatment within an hour of the crash. Serious injuries can turn fatal after 60-minutes. Not every fire truck is equipped with the "Jaws-of-life" tools. Tactical Services Capt. David Tallent tells Channel 3 in the heat of the moment, precious time is often wasted. 

"A lot of folks don't realize there's a lot of wasted minutes getting out, checking on somebody, just dial 9-1-1 and get us started there as soon as possible." 

Not every engine is equipped with the "Jaws-of-Life" tools. Depending on the location, It could take more time for those tools to arrive with a squad truck. You should call 9-1-1 to get help on the way immediately. If you're going to stop and help, officials ask that you pay attention and stay out of the way.

"The best thing to do is pull past the accident if you are going to stop or stop way short of it and put your flashers on get out of the roadway," said Capt. David Tallent, Tactical Services team, Chattanooga Fire Dept. 

The worst thing that can happen is for another accident to occur on top of the first. Firefighters need space to secure the scene. You don't want your car blocking emergency responders, or causing an additional driving hazard. If you see them coming it's important you pull off to the right side of the road. 

"We can't pass you by law on the right side, so if you go into the turning lane we have to go into oncoming traffic to pull around you," said Capt. Scott Pell, Chattanooga Fire Dept. 

If you're the one needing help, officials say it's important that you stay calm. Firefighters will ask you questions to figure out the best way to get you out, while keeping your condition stable. 

 "The first thing is wear your seat belt, by far it will save your life," said Capt. Pell. "It will keep you in your seat, in position where you don't end up in the floor board or in another seat." 

It may be tempting to go asleep or get comfortable on a long car ride, don't. 

"The engineers have designed (the vehicle) for you to be sitting erect in the seat," said Capt. Tallent. "Seat belt worn properly, not slumped over one side, don't have your feet on the dash or hanging out the door of a jeep, it's very possible you will lose your feet......or your life."

To give you an idea of just how often firefighters use this extrication method on the scene of a crash, there were about 100 confirmed extrication last year alone. Fire officials the drills this week wouldn't be possible without the donation of 25 cars from PSC Metals. The cadet class will continue to run different drills through Friday. They're set to graduate Sept. 3. 

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