Ajax, Ontario – End-of-life-vehicles are providing Ajax’s first responders with life-saving training opportunities thanks to a partnership between the city’s fire and emergency services and their local auto recycler, Dave Langille of Durham Auto Parts.
“Annually, we do auto extrication training. The last couple of years, we’ve done something a little different than just cars, which is typically what we train on,” said Ajax fire chief training officer Reno Levesque.
“This year we were able to get a bus donated from [an auto recycler]. We did some different scenarios with it and it worked out fantastic,” said Levesque.
In late October, Ajax Fire and Emergency Services took part in a training session involving a decommissioned city bus that first responders had the opportunity to manipulate into various accident scenarios, providing what Ajax fire chief training officer Reno Levesque considers to be an invaluable training experience.
“We typically get cars and we’re able to flip them upside down or on their sides and have them in different scenarios. Obviously, we don’t go to a car accident and see it perfectly on all-fours and easy to access every time. To do different evolutions that require us to utilize all of our tools and work outside of our regular parameters. It certainly helps us for sure,” said Levesque.
This sort of opportunity would likely have not been possible without the relationship Ajax Fire has with their local auto recycler.
“They get more than just cars: buses, tractor-trailers, machinery, different things like that. Their ability to get pieces and their willingness to deliver it to us was certainly why we partnered with them. To be able to go to a site and have them manipulate and stack cars; pile them, smash them, flip them. It brings that real-life element for us and it’s a great resource when a fire department and auto recyclers have that relationship. It’s really good for us. A lot of times it’s hard for us to bring in a vehicle. If it gets towed to us, it sits in our parking lot. Usually, we don’t have access to any kind of machinery to put it in different positions so you’re very limited.”
Levesque continued, “In Ajax, we’re also pretty lucky we have the same grounds as the works department, so our works department is very good about bringing a front-end loader and flipping a vehicle or stacking them. That certainly helps to bring in something other than a car or a pickup truck.”
This ongoing relationship also allows first responders to stay up-to-date on changing vehicle materials and technologies that may affect their ability to respond to an emergency.
Levesque notes that addressing and adapting to these changing technologies has become a priority for emergency response education.
“That’s a huge component of what we do now. With all the airbags and different safety systems that are in there. There are different means of transport, not just traditional gasoline engines. All of that vehicle technology is really important to us.
In some cases, it is the equipment being used that needs to be updated to match new materials.
“Our tools have evolved as well and it certainly plays a huge role in the different materials and how we cut, where we cut, all of those little things. That’s why it’s important that we get different vehicles. Every vehicle is different, that’s why it’s so important for us to do that ‘peel and peek’ and see different things and try different things. Even just the ways we normally cut and spread and push a dash or something—it might work really well for a certain car and might just not work at all for another. It’s really important that we get multiple vehicles of different kinds: pickups and minivans and things like that. That way when we’re actually responding to a call and extricating a vehicle if one technique is not working, we don’t just have one technique, we have multiple. That way we can adapt to any circumstance.”