Elliot Lake firefighters train with auto extrication equipment
The Sudbury Star
On Saturday, May 15, while residents were tending to their lawns and preparing their gardens under sunny skies, many of Elliot Lake’s firefighters were training on rescuing people.

As many as 16 of Elliot Lake’s full-time and volunteer firefighters took part in the training program using the Jaws of Life equipment.
Elliot Lake Fire Chief John Thomas says because of COVID-19 restrictions they split the training in two, with half taking part in the morning and the rest in the afternoon. For COVID safety, they wore masks and visors.
The Jaws of Life and the other tools in the kit such as the spreaders, cutters and ram hydraulics are made by Hurst.
The Elliot Lake Fire Service has been using Jaws of Life tools for many years. However, several years ago the department opted to modernized their equipment. They replaced their old heavy hydraulic tools powered by a gasoline engine that was connected to the tools by hydraulic hoses to battery powered tools, says Thomas.
They are more efficient and lighter.
The instructor for the training sessions was Jason Defosse, of Code4 Fire and Rescue.
And once a year, Defosse, the service representative, comes to Elliot Lake to service the equipment. And while here, Thomas takes the opportunity to have Defosse train the firefighters.
Defosse lives in southern Ontario, but his Code4 Fire and Rescue territory runs from Ontario to Atlantic Canada, says Thomas.
He adds that Defosse is one of the top Jaws of Life rescue instructors in the country, and he is in high demand.
Defosse also explains to the firefighters about any new changes auto makers have made in the construction of their vehicles, such as using stronger metals and electric vehicles.
However, when Defosse is not available to train the local firefighters a second time in a year, one of the more experienced firefighters does the training. They hope to be able to get Defosse back in November for more training, Thomas explains.
The fire chief says on average they use this equipment about three or four times a year. The Jaws of Life are usually used to help extricate car accident victims who are trapped in their vehicles. However, they have used the equipment in other situations as well.
They have used it to free a person whose hand was stuck in the workings of a treadmill. In another instance, a person got a foot wedge between two boulders.
“They used the jaws to spread the rocks apart to get the leg out.”
Thomas says they had seven derelict vehicles that were headed to a metal recycler, which were provided by JL Daigle of OK Tire in Elliot Lake. In addition, the training was done on the OK Tire lot on Perini Road in the south industrial area.
“He (Daigle) had them and he was kind enough to let us use his area and supply us the cars.
“He even placed the cars for us, placing them one on top of the other so it kind of looked like an actual accident scene.”
By doing this the firefighters not only trained on how to cut into the vehicles they also get to practice stabilizing them so they could work on the cars safely.
“And we’re very fortunate that the municipality provides us with excellent equipment,” concludes Thomas. “We have state-of-the-art top-of-the-line gear.”