Tool Helps Rescuers Save Lives in Less Time

CIRT tool attracts area rescue groups

By Tammy Mutasa
|  Tuesday, Feb 14, 2012  |  Updated 7:15 PM CDT
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Rescuers are learning how to use new tools to help them speed up their efforts to save lives.

Tammy Mutasa, Garland Reporter

Rescuers are learning how to use new tools to help them speed up their efforts to save lives.

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Local rescue groups got their first look at new technology that will help save people in disaster situations in less time.

The Controlled Impact Rescue Tool is a break-through device that helps rescuers break through building or wall collapses.

"This particular tool would easily cut our rescue time in half," said Steve Coffman, of the Texas Task Force Two.

The CIRT tool uses powder rounds to project a piston head onto the concrete.

Rescuers say it takes the CIRT tool about five to 10 minutes to pierce through 4-inch thick concrete. In the best-case scenario, it usually takes 30 minutes to reach trapped victims, rescuers said.

"You always plan for the event -- not that they will come -- but you always plan for the event. You always want to plan for the worst-case scenario," Gott said.

After events such as the Oklahoma City bombing and the Sept. 11 attacks, the Department of Homeland Security asked engineers to develop a tool that would help rescue victims from collapsed buildings.

"Their conventional tools are very good, and they are very good at what they do," said Michael Millspaugh, of Raytheon. "However, new technology does happen, and things need to be invented for faster breaching times."

There are currently 21 CIRT tools in the country.

Garland Fire Capt. David Gott said he believes their use will save lives.

"The quicker we get to victims, the better we're all going to be," he said.

With tornado season around the corner, state rescue groups want the tool, so they are prepared for anything.

"We've had a lot of large tornadoes come through various parts of Texas, and the hurricane issues along the coast would be enough for us to consider as well," Coffman said.

The department is applying for local and state grants to pay for the tool, which costs an estimated $17,000.

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