– Soldiers of the 179th and 180th Fire Detachments of the Massachusetts Army National Guard out of Camp Edwards in Bourne, Mass., receive valuable training in vehicle extrication rescue from junk cars of Almeida’s Used Car & Parts lot here June 3.
In what is now becoming a yearly tradition, these firefighter Soldiers travel to Almeida’s, a decades-old family auto repair and towing business, with all their equipment for the chance to destroy vehicles piece-by-piece in the hopes that the practice from breaking down so many different types of vehicles may one day save a life.
At least that’s how Ken Weston sees it, an employee of Almeida’s for 16 years, who says he often sees vehicles towed into the yard that needed to be cut by the air-powered cutting and splitting tools known as the Jaws of Life.
The firefighter Soldiers begin their meticulous stripping of the vehicle by carefully shattering the windows and cutting across the windshield to pull it down in one piece. Then the doors are cut off at the hinges by a circular saw after being wedged apart from the rest of the vehicle by the Jaws of Life.
Next the firefighters work in tandem to sever the roof of the vehicle from the chassis, one using an axe to create the initial cut and the other using a high-powered cutting tool to break down the frame. Finally, the firefighters gather around the vehicle and safely lift the roof off in one piece in order to rescue the once-trapped auto-accident victims inside.
Weston and the owner of the yard, Steven Almeida, don’t mind sacrificing some of their vehicles to provide this training, “If just one thing could save a life it’s worth it,” Weston said.