Firefighters practice vehicle extrications in Pinellas County

- The North American Vehicle Rescue Association is chewing through junk yard cars at the Showtime Speedway this week. 

First responders and firefighters from Florida, New York, Illinois, Washington, Sweden and Columbia are competing in 20 minute extrications of  "live patients" in simulated car crashes. 

However that is not the main motivation.  "The primary reason for this event is learning" retired Broward fire chief and NAVRA judge Neal De Jesus explained.  "We want to bring back what we learn here and apply it in the streets of our hometown communities."

The team from Southern Kane County, Illinois worked on a particularly difficult scenario in one event.  One vehicle was placed against a Jersey barrier, a second vehicle draped across its roof, with a deceased driver and a conscious, but injured passenger. 

"They're tasked with creating a plan, recognizing what your injuries are, developing an exit plan, treating you and packaging you and then removing you" Palm Harbor district chief and NAVRA president Dan Zinge said. 

De Jesus called that,  "a very complicated scenario with a high degree of difficulty in terms of patient access." 

A paramedic had to crawl in the vehicle to asses the patient, while rescuers outside calculated their cuts. 

"They have to make sure that roof doesn't come down and crush the patient that's inside the vehicle," De Jesus said. 

The allotted 20 minutes ran out before the "patient" was extricated, but the judge said, "The team did well."

That assessment surprised the Illinois team, which received a lengthy critique from the judges. 

However that particular lecture will have a broader impact, because these team members come from several fire rescue agencies.  "They give us ideas that we can take back to all our departments," team leader Scott Stephens told FOX 13 News.

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