Responders adding new Jaws of Life

Published 8:00 pm Thursday, August 23, 2012

Franklin County emergency officials are awaiting the arrival of the latest tool in their arsenal: a new Jaws of Life.

     “We’re supposed to have one coming in pretty quick,” said Franklin County Civil Defense Director Mark Thornton. “It’s been ordered.”

     The tool, used to extract people trapped in vehicles, will be placed at the East Franklin Fire Department at McCall Creek. There are Jaws of Life at Roxie, Bude and Fire Dstrict Five.

     The new Jaws of Life will replace East Franklin’s previous one, which was the oldest in the county, dating back to the late 1980s.

     “East Franklin had an old set, but it just got to where it wasn’t working right, so we finally had to replace it,” Thornton said. “It’s costing more to keep it up than it’s worth.”

     The old Jaws of Life will probably be discarded. It was the first Jaws of Life Franklin County ever bought, Thornton said.

     It saw a lot of mileage in the county. It started out at Bude and, as each station got a new set, was transferred from there to Roxie then to District Five and then finally to East Franklin.

     “It’s been around,” Thornton said.

     There has been discussion of buying a new Jaws of Life for about six months, Thornton said.

     The new set will cost approximately $16,685 and will be purchased from TNT Rescue of Sumrall. Mississippi counties receive regular money from a state insurance rebate program that is earmarked for fire department gear.

     “We reserve a percentage of it and put in an account and it stays there until we need some kind of equipment,” Thornton said.

     The Jaws of Life is an essential tool, but it’s hard to estimate how often Franklin County emergency responders are called on to use it.

     “Sometimes you may go two or three months without needing then; sometimes you use them two or three times in a month,” Thornton said.

     East Franklin has about 10 active responders, typically covering all of Supervisor District Four.

     Speaking of other equipment, Thornton feels the county fire departments are in decent shape. Most departments have two trucks. The first truck that will need to be replaced is a late 1970s model at Bude, Thornton said.

     The newest trucks in the county are less than 10 years old.

     “That’s good for a fire truck,” Thornton said. “They don’t get too many miles on them.”

     In other news, Thornton warned Franklin County residents a mock disaster drill will be performed Saturday in the vicinity of Okhissa Lake.

     “Don’t be alarmed if you hear sirens,” Thornton said.