Pint-Sized Jaws of Life

My little brother and I had been talking about going…

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My little brother and I had been talking about going fishing for some time. I thought the Selway would be a great place because it was an area we both loved. Working two jobs, it took me a while to get the same days off and take Matt fishing. The day started at 8:00 a.m. I stopped by my firehouse to restock my medic bag with critical items. The visit was enough to prompt my brother to tell me he wanted to be a fireman/EMT, too. Mountain Dews in hand, we headed out. The conversation flowed freely about fish, life and everything in between. We were about 10 minutes away from the split in the Lachsa and Selway rivers when we came around the corner to find a car in the road with its flashers on. Just past it, off the road to the right, a truck was overturned, resting against a tree. I parked my car and with medical supplies in hand, headed toward the upside-down truck. As I approached, I saw that an ER nurse who lived up the hill had responded to the accident and was kneeling on the passenger side of the truck working on a middle-aged woman.

After a short conversation about the woman’s injuries, we decided we had to get her out of the car and onto flat ground. After inserting an oral airway, the four of us on scene slowly picked her up and carried her to the highway. My little brother went back to the man hanging upside down in the driver’s seat to talk to him and alert me of any changes in his condition. The ambulance and a fire truck arrived shortly thereafter. It was obvious the man would need to be cut out, so after stabilizing the truck, the firefighters began using their extrication tool, or, “Jaws of Life.” I stood back and watched as the machine went to work on the twisted metal, but I noticed after a few minutes that they weren’t making much progress.

The firemen changed out their tools and gave the mangled truck another try. Still nothing. The man in the truck was fading in and out. The extreme urgency of the situation was apparent. Without thinking, I reached down to the pocket of my shorts, grabbed my Benchmade 705 and started ripping and tearing through the metal to get the man out. I cut the B- post and the roof, folded the metal back and began cutting 3 feet worth of windshield to move it out of the way. Once inside the vehicle, we braced the man and began the process of removing him from the car. One quick cut through his seat belt, another slice through the dashboard, and the man was free. The medics immediately went to work on the man, stabilizing him and loading him into the ambulance. As they did this, I looked up and saw my little brother doing CPR on the woman we had earlier extricated. His 16-year-old eyes said it all, and I knew he would never follow in my footsteps as a firefighter.

The woman was loaded in the helicopter and whisked away to the hospital. The whole scene then became dead calm. I looked down and noticed the finish on my knife was mangled and scratched. There were nicks in the blade and I thought for sure it was toast. I ran my thumb across the blade, and to my amazement, it was still sharp. I ran the knife down my forearm; it shaved the hair to the skin just like it had always done. I was thankful that I had carried my Benchmade knife that day, and to this day, whether on or off duty, I never leave home without it.

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