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Western Washington firefighters need your help to save lives: Extrication training group loses practice tools

PUYALLUP, Wash. — A group who’s dedicated their lives to helping others, the Puyallup Extrication Team, needs the public’s help to continue their training program.

Since 2000, the team has been training first responders in the art of extrication. This often includes training on how to use the ‘Jaws of Life’ to rescue people trapped as a result of car crashes.

“We’ve taught thousands of firefighters over the course of 20 years,” said Jeff Pugh, president of the Puyallup Extrication Team.

Until recently, the nonprofit group of volunteers used a donated ‘Jaws of Life’ tool set to conduct their training. However last year, the company loaning the tools decided they could no longer continue to lend the tools out, so they took them back.

“Losing these tools that support that’s behind us is huge for us. We still would continue our efforts, but it’s not going to be what it could be. It should be. It has been,” said Pugh.

That’s why the group has decided to take their fate into their own hands and purchase their own set of ‘Jaws of Life’ tools to train with. They need about $30,000 to purchase the tools, and as of Monday night, they’re far from reaching their goal.

The Puyallup Extrication Team trains fire department and firefighters both here locally, domestically and internationally. Often they’re providing training departments don’t or can’t offer. Their goal is to make first responders better and faster at extrication.

A good example of the situation the Puyallup Extrication Team trains for happened last month when an Amtrak train derailed on I-5 in DuPont. Three people were killed and dozens more injured. First responders used the ‘Jaws of Life’ to pry open the train cars and rescue survivors. Pugh said his group trained some of the agencies that responded to the derailment.

The team’s ‘Jaws of Life’ training class in March is already sold out. Pugh said they hope to borrow tools to teach the class, but if they can’t, they’ll teach without.

If you would like to help out, there are two ways to donate to the group: either go to their website, www.thepxteam.org or on their ‘Go Fund Me’ page www.gofundme.com/jaws-of-life-purchase.