By Karen Zautyk
The temperature was bone-chilling and the rain was falling in torrents, but undeterred by the nasty weather, members of the Nutley Volunteer Emergency & Rescue Squad were out in the storm, turning a Lincoln Town Car into a heap of scrap metal.
They had to, for inside the vehicle, a man was trapped.
For 45 minutes, using the “Jaws of Life” and other extrication devices, they worked diligently at their task, smashing windows, ripping off the roof and doors and otherwise dismantling the auto, until they could safely secure the victim with a neck brace, move him onto a backboard and then gently lift him onto a gurney for transfer to the waiting ambulance.
Even though he had no injuries whatsoever.
It was all part of a simulated heavy-rescue drill, played out before an appreciative audience of Boy Scouts, who watched the entire procedure protected by a large canopy, graciously provided by the squad. (We weren’t kidding about the rain; it was like something out of “Noah.”)
The drill was held the night of April 7 in the lot behind the EMS headquarters on Chestnut St., just east of Passaic Ave.
The Scouts, members of Nutley Troop 142, had volunteered to serve as “victims” for a first-responder training course, and the squad was happy to comply, utilizing a car from an anonymous donor. (Poor car. It went from four-door sedan to no-door convertible in under an hour.)
We had expected that the kids might be lying scattered around on the ground, but if that were ever in the plans, the downpour put an end to any such scenario.
The Scouts, aged 11 to 16, still got to be “victims,” though. Inside the HQ building, they were bandaged and fitted with various splints and braces — and they received instruction on how to use first aid equipment.
Their first lesson was on how to secure someone to a backboard. The Town Car “driver,” probationary Squad member Daniel Randall, still immobile on the gurney, had spent nearly an hour in the car covered head-to-toe by an aluminum blanket — to protect him from glass and sparks during the rescue. But his job wasn’t over.
The boys, supervised by training officer Henry Meola, got busy retying Randall to the backboard, using long strips of heavy cloth and any sort of knots they wanted. (Being Boy Scouts, they know a lot of knots.)
When the task was done, Squad members lifted the board and flipped it over, so that Randall was suspended in air, face down. He remained safely immobile, despite the force of gravity. Good work, kids!
Although the evening’s experiences were fun, the underlying purpose was quite serious.
Troop 142 is trying to earn the “Messengers of Peace” award that will be presented in May at the N.J. State Police/ National Guard Camporee in Sea Girt.
According to the Camporee website, gardenstatescouting. org, “Messengers of Peace,” launched in September 2011, is a “global initiative designed to inspire millions of young men and women .. . to work towards peace.”
Using social media, “the initiative lets Scouts from around the world share what they have done and inspire fellow Scouts to undertake similar efforts in their own communities, encouraging the completion of a Good Turn in your community and helping others.”
As their community service project, the local Scouts wanted to help the Rescue Squad.
The Scouts learned much and the Squad members had the opportunity to continue to perfect their already impressive skills.
The drill also provided learning opportunities in other ways. While the Scouts were outside, watching the first responders’ rescue efforts at the car wreck, we heard one of the Scout leaders say, “This is what happens when you drink and drive . . . or when you text and drive.”
Hopefully, that message will be imprinted upon all of them. Forever.