USDA small grant provides life-saving equipment

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Jennifer Green-Lanchoney
(805) 928-9269 x104
Carlotta Fire Department recieves USDA RD CF grant money for "Jaws of Life' equipment

The truck slid 100 feet and slammed into one of the Redwoods that line Highway 36, which is littered with curves and switchbacks in scenic Northern California, jamming the driver’s door shut.

When firefighters from the Carlotta Community Service District arrived on the scene, they found the impact was so severe the passenger side door frame was against the driver, who was trapped in the vehicle.

Several months earlier, Sam Susmilch, a volunteer firefighter for the District, completed a grant application through the Community Facilities program to purchase a battery powered Jaws of Life cutter, spreader and ram.

The three separate battery powered Jaws of Life tools replaced an antiquated system that required a hose, which was an additional hazard in an emergency situation.

“Our old hydraulic driven system required three items to be carried to the accident scene,” said Susmilch. “With the battery powered Jaws we were cutting within seconds and with no noise or hose’s to trip over.”

With the new equipment, the team had the door off and driver removed just as the ambulance arrived.

“One of our missions in rural development is to create an avenue for public organizations to acquire funding for essential equipment,” said California Acting State Director Richard Brassfield. “The impact that this small grant made is inspiring.”

According to Susmilch, the new equipment helped the district save time, and increase safety and efficiency.

“USDA possibly helped save a life,” said Susmilch. “These battery powered tools give us the ability to begin the extrication process as soon as we walk up to the accident scene itself.”

Fast Facts

Obligation Amount$ 14,296
Date of ObligationAugust 2016
Congressional DistrictHuffman (CA-2)
Senator's Last NamesFeinstein, Boxer