Case study: extrication from a single-seat aircraft
How Pentheon Series tools helped extricate a patient from a plane wreck in twelve minutes.
In February of 2022, the Nineveh Township Fire Department, Engine Co. 101, and various other Southern Johnson County fire departments responded to an aircraft accident involving a single seat Cesna 172 aircraft. With a combination of a high level of skills, first responders at the scene arriving very quickly, and the right tools, the crew were able to extricate the pilot in twelve minutes. This is the story of Nineveh Township’s Bravest.
“The accident happened at an airfield in our first due, which is in a very rural area. The airfield isn’t actually much more than a landing strip with a hangar. When the pilot crashed the plane, it touched down and ended up about 900 feet off the runway, in a muddy field. Operating in a rural area we’re used to access issues, but this situation was one of the more difficult we’ve encountered.” says Engine Co. 101’s Ethan J. Straker, who was one of the rescuers using the tools during the extrication.
Safety & Scene Assessment
“As the first arriving company, we were assigned medical and extrication by the chief on scene (CH601). Because it was impossible to get any closer, we had to walk about 300 yards (275 meters) to the actual scene. From our division, one guy grabbed a medical bag, one carried a spreader and one carried a cutter. Both the cutter and the spreader were battery-operated Holmatro Pentheon tools. At the scene, we saw that the situation with the pilot looked similar to a bad head-on collision, where the driver gets his legs stuck during impact. This pilot’s legs were under the engine block and entangled in the fuselage. We hadn’t seen anything like this before, so initially it was somewhat overwhelming.
Due to our incident pre-planning, and cooperation from our mutual aid partners, we had a full box assignment for this incident: five additional engines, two paramedic ambulances and an additional battalion chief.
In terms of risk assessment, we noticed that there was a small fuel leak that we had to take care of, due to this a whole engine company was assigned to suppression.”
Stabilisation & Initial Access
“In terms of stabilization, we assessed the situation and saw that the way the plane had landed, the vehicle wasn’t going anywhere. Due to the high level of training our firemen receive, we had multiple vehicle and machinery extrication technicians on scene, who deemed it unnecessary to do further stabilization.
The medics could already reach the patient at this point, as some of the plane’s glass had shattered upon impact and the door had already come off. We did have to get rid of some more glass, which in this case was plexiglass. We were able to get that out without using any tools.”
“At first, we thought the simplest way to get the pilot out would be from the side door of the plane. But as his legs were entangled in the fuselage of the plane, we weren’t able to do this. There was no other option than to cut the nose of the plane away. This is where we used the cutter and the spreader: first making small cuts to the fuselage and then using the spreader to push the nose away from the rest of the plane. The cuts we made were just one tenth of an inch at a time, to make sure we didn’t injure the patient’s limbs further. With the Pentheon Series tools, we were able to have a great amount of control over this movement. We wouldn’t have been able to do this with other tools, I’m convinced.”
Full Access , Immobilization & Extrication
“After the nose was separated, it was relatively easy to get the patient out the front, in a linear way. Eventually, we were able to get the patient out in twelve minutes, which is well within reasonable expectation. After that, he was transported to the hospital by helicopter.”
“Looking back, we can say this was a very effective extrication. We were fortunate enough to have our people at the scene quickly. On top of that, the medical helicopter was already in the air. It was on its way back from a hospital in Indianapolis, and diverted our way to see what was going on.
We had a lot of highly skilled people there, which enabled us to effect the extrication extremely quickly. So even though there’s always room for improvement, we think this incident was mitigated as safely, effectively, and quickly as possible given the combination of challenging circumstances.”
“Given the circumstances we were in, having the Pentheon tools really helped us. We actually just received these a couple of weeks before the accident. If we had anything other than Pentheon, we wouldn’t have been able to do this as effectively, safely and efficiently. We used to have older tools from a different brand. Using them, we would have needed way more guys to carry a pump, hoses and tools if we still had those. Now, with two guys, we could just take the cutter and the spreader. Plus having the confidence that the Pentheon tools would operate when called upon.”
“As always: we are proud to serve the citizens of Nineveh Township and Southern Johnson County.”