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For Firemen, Practice Could Save Lives

FRagments of glass fly as a Sanatoga fireman practices removing a car windshield.

Glass fragments fly as a Sanatoga fireman practices removing a car windshield Monday night behind the East High Street firehouse.

Practicing with the Jaws Of Life.

Practicing with the Jaws Of Life.

SANATOGA PA – At a time Monday (May 18, 2009) when some families in the village were just sitting down to an evening meal, members of the Sanatoga Fire Company had given up dinner to learn how to quickly and safely take apart a car, a van, and a sport-utility vehicle.

Dressed in full fire-fighting equipment, a team of 17 gathered at about 6:30 p.m. in the rear parking of the company firehouse, 2222 E. High St., to learn how to properly use the hydraulic “Jaws Of Life” and other hand-held tools to cut into and through junked vehicles that had been specifically brought in for the exercise.

See a Post gallery of 45 photos from the training.

These practice lessons in destruction may someday save a life, Lower Pottsgrove (PA) Township Fire Marhsal Lew Babel said. Knowing how to rapidly get into a crashed vehicle with a victim trapped inside could someday mean the difference between survival or death for an unlucky driver or passenger.

The heavy, muscle-straining work attracted stares from shoppers leaving the K-Mart and Sanatoga Thriftway stores adjacent to the firehouse. Despite cooling temperatures and a constant breeze, the faces of several firefighters who lifted their helmet visors for a breath of air could be seen dripping with sweat.

Removing a passenger door was among the night's tasks for this crew.

Removing a passenger door was the night's tasks for this crew.

From inside a van, one firefighter learns where and how to slice through a support post.

Seated inside a van, one Sanatoga firefighter learns where and how remove a seat belt and slice through a left-side support pillar.

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