Saugatuck Twp. firefighters get grant for life-saving tool

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SAUGATUCK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The Saugatuck Township Fire District is getting new life-saving equipment to help crews reach crash victims faster, despite a fundraising shortfall.

AAA Tuesday will award the fire department a $9,051 check to bridge the funding gap. The money will go toward replacing the department’s 25-year-old extrication tool.

The Saugatuck Township Fire District says the number of crashes it has responded to has risen 67 percent recently, mostly because of distracted driving.

The issue is compounded by antiquated equipment. Fire Chief Greg Janik said the department’s old Amkus tool slowed firefighters during the “golden hour of patient care.”

“By the time you get the call, get there, start cutting the car and extricate the person, minutes count,” Janik said in a ” target=”_blank”>YouTube video comparing response times between the old tool an the new Genesis Edraulic tool.

Janik said the new equipment is also battery operated and quieter, making it easier for crews to communicate about patient care.

Local resident and AAA insurance agent Pamel Engel Marczuk alerted the Saugatuck Township Fire District to the AAA Traffic Safety Grant Program and the department recently learned it would get the money it needed to purchase the tool.

A check presentation ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Saugatuck Township Fire District on Blue Star Highway.

Grand Rapids Fire Department officials received similar, new equipment in early March, and say it has already improved responses.

David Norman, with GRFD, says the department is using combination cutter/spreaders that operate on battery power and are stocked in the departments truck companies for light extrication and rapid intervention. Rapid intervention includes helping gain access to commercial or residential structures, and the portable nature of the equipment allows firefighters to take it inside immediately.

According to Norman, the department has used the combination tools on two car extrications, and in one case where a man’s car slipped off the carjack and onto his arm.

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