The Basic Rules of Vehicle Stabilization During an Extrication Process

Motor vehicle accidents happen every day, with the number of victims growing bigger as time rolls on. Indeed, even if you survive a motor vehicle accident, you can be trapped inside the car. One costly mistake in the extrication process can determine the severity of your injuries and survival.

The Essence of the “Golden Hour”

There are three simple and basic steps in vehicle extrication: stabilizing the scene, stabilizing the vehicle, and stabilizing the patient. Ideally, rescuing the patient and initializing medical care should all happen in the span of one hour, also known as the “golden hour”.

The Golden Rules for Vehicle Stabilization During Patient Extrication

The idea of the “golden hour” stems from the belief that an outcome will most likely be positive if rescuers can reduce the time given for definitive trauma care. No matter how advanced the medical technology is, it will all be for naught if the patient is not within a medical team’s reach as soon as humanly possible.

Furthermore, for a patient to improve his chances of survival, he must be located, extricated from the scene, transported to a hospital or nearest medical facility, medically stabilized, and prepared for delivery to the hospital’s surgical team.

Depending on the situation, there are many strategies one can employ to stage a successful rescue. However, there are still some generic rules that all must follow to ensure the safety of both rescuers and victims.

Never put yourself (or any body part) between the rescue tool and vehicle.

This is why practical training is very important when learning vehicle extrication. While equipment used for vehicle stabilization and extrication are not dangerous on their own, improper methods, such as using yourself as a fulcrum for a more stabilized footing, are incredibly unsafe. There is no telling when the vehicle might shift.

Even seemingly stabilized vehicles can move suddenly, despite securing the vehicle and eliminating potential threats.

Use the proper and appropriate tools to get the job done.

Physical strength really has little to do with rescue attempts at a motor vehicle crash site. Sure, some of the vehicle stabilization and extrication equipment is heavy, but not to the extent that you need to carry everything to the scene. In assessing the situation, rescuers know which tools to bring and have already formed a feasible plan to rescue a victim immediately.

Try before you pry.

Some novice emergency responders are understandably eager to apply all the techniques they learned from their vehicle extrication seminar. However, it’s important to remind them of the most basic rule of vehicle extrication: try opening the vehicle doors first to see if they can remove the victim that way.

In extrication, it's necessary to not waste time and energy on complex strategies when a simple rescue operation will do. So, before you start using vehicle extrication equipment to free the patient, you should try the most obvious and simplest strategy first.

By following these basic strategies, rescuers will minimize potential injuries to themselves and the patients.


Vehicle Extrication - Stabilization,