The Saint Lucia Fire Service (SLFS) is switching from hydraulic-operated to battery-powered extrication tools, allowing greater maneuverability and requiring less manpower.
“One person can operate it and carry it over long distances and down steep slopes,” Acting Fire Chief Ditney Downes explained regarding the battery-powered device.
On the other hand, Downes told St Lucia Times that at least three individuals are generally needed to operate the hydraulic tools to extricate someone trapped in a vehicle, especially if the vehicle is off-road.
On Wednesday, representatives of a United States-based company demonstrated how to use the battery-powered device, one of which the SLFS has bought.
It was the second such demonstration.
The first demonstration occurred some three years ago before the SLFS bought the device.
But the issue at the time was funding.
However, the SLFS made the purchase during the last financial year and received a budget allocation for tools this financial year.
As a result, it hopes to eventually phase out the seven hydraulic extrication tools, using them as backup for the battery-operated ones.
“I have no doubt the tool is very effective. That’s what the fire-fighting world is moving into,” the Acting Fire Chief told St Lucia Times.
In addition, Downes disclosed that the battery-operated extrication tool the SLFS bought would be at one of Saint Lucia’s busiest fire stations.
“Moving forward, we will go in the direction of purchasing battery-operated extrication tools,” he told St Lucia Times.
Downes described the move as timely, given the surge in vehicle accidents.
In 2018, the SLFS responded to 490 motor vehicle accidents, 530 in 2019, and 539 in 2020.
In 2021, the number jumped to 870; in 2022, emergency personnel responded to 1001 vehicle accidents.
And since the beginning of the year, there have been 221 vehicle accident responses.