Crash Test

Emergency workers gather for critical response training
Medford and Fire District No. 3 firefighters demonstrate how to remove a car crash victim as Jessica Stanfield of the Jacksonville Fire Department plays the victim role during a training session for area emergency crews.Julia Moore

Local emergency crews are seeing more car crashes in which the passengers are trapped in the wreckage, presenting a problem for paramedics working quickly to free them from a pile of crumpled metal and glass.

To improve their ability to deal with the issue, Medford Fire-Rescue and Jackson County Fire District No. 3 teamed up Friday to host a training for crews from around the region.

The training involved two wrecked cars donated by Star Body Works/24 Hour Towing, one of which was dumped on its top in the parking lot of a Medford fire station off North Phoenix Road. Volunteers were then strapped into the wreckage and pulled free and placed on spine boards.

"We've had to deal with more extractions every year," said District 3 Capt. Don Manning.

Manning was among the instructors who spoke to a group of firefighters and paramedics from as far away as Prospect, the coast and Northern California.

The training is part of a countywide State of Jefferson EMS Conference. The conference brings together emergency crews from across the region and three area hospitals for lectures and training in life-or-death situations.

Among the topics was cardiac arrest treatment, epidemics, burns, hypothermia, child respiratory issues and car crashes.

Medford Fire-Rescue firefighter and paramedic Tom McGowan taught a class on car crash scenarios, which included graphic photographs of patients who suffered serious injuries in trapped vehicles.

"Being pinned in a vehicle is a dangerous situation," McGowan said. "You have crush injuries where parts of the body are not getting blood and other potentially fatal injuries."

Emergency crews practiced on the wrecked cars outside the fire station by using saws and prying tools to cut the roofs from the vehicles.

Manning said a well-trained crew can remove a car roof in less than 10 minutes to get at a patient.

But rescue workers are seeing smaller cars that are made to collapse on impact. That makes drivers and passengers safer, because the collapsing action allows the car to absorb the impact. However, it creates more trapped drivers.

"It's not all bad, because overall car safety is getting better," Manning said. "But we still have to get them out of the vehicle."

The two-day conference ends today with classes on defibrillator use and long-distance transporting of injured people.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email

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