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Firefighters hone skills in extrication competition

BERRIEN SPRINGS, Mich. -- Dozens of Michiana firefighters took part in an extrication competition Saturday to see who could do the best job of cutting out passengers trapped in a vehicle accident.

Driving is one of the most dangerous things people do.

Hundreds die from car crashes every single day in the U.S.

It's not a sight emergency responders look forward to, but one they have to train for.

"It's not a matter of how often it happens, it's being ready when it does," Ron Burkett, Chief of the Lincoln Township Fire Department, said.

Saturday, he and his fellow firefighters took part in a regional competition to test their skills. Car accidents in his coverage area are up this year, he said.

"People become very familiar with the tools, with the repetition," Burkett said. "That repetition makes things go smoother on actual events."

Firefighters had to work quickly, but carefully as well. The competition, like in real-life scenarios, is more than just about speed.

"It's important you get them out as fast as you can, but you don't want to do it so fast, that you're jolting the car, and moving the patient," Jeff Starbuck, the event's organizer, said.

It's a lesson he knows all too well.

In addition to being a firefigher, he also sells extrication equipment for First Due Fire Supply. Drills like this are necessary because people need saving from more than just car accidents.

"A lot of these teams, they do trench rescue," Starbuck said. "So, the little boy you saw on the news that got trapped in the Dunes, that's something these guys specialize in."

A specialization, that could save your life someday.

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