Rescue demos, tours, lots of sirens at Touch-a-Truck event

Jun 24, 2018

Faced with the mangled wreckage of a Toyota Camry, Dartmouth Fire District No. 3 crews got right to work with the jaws of life. Within 15 minutes, crews had several doors and the roof removed from the car.

Usually fire crews work much faster, but this was only a demonstration. Held before a packed crowd of kids and families, it was all part of the 2018 Touch-A-Truck event at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth on June 24.

During the exercise, Capt. Corey Pimental guided the nearly 100 onlookers through the procedure, known technically as an extrication. It is used to free victims from a car involved in a crash, using special tools capable of powering through the glass, metal, and internal structures of a car.

The firefighters showed off the main tools used in the process: cutters, which can get through the metal body of the car; spreaders, devices used to create openings and push apart two pieces of the car, like a door frame; and rams.

During the demonstration, Pimental passed around one of the tools for the kids in the audience to hold. Although he warned it was quite heavy, 7-year-old Jordan Fleck was not intimidated.

Once the demonstration was over, firefighter Rick Fernandes showed his son RJ around the wreck, as the curious 5-year-old asked questions about the process, and of the mangled demonstration car.

“It was cool when they took the roof off,” he added.

The event is organized by the Westport Scouting Association, with proceeds benefiting Westport scouting troops. Its president, Matt Forbes, explained the event originally began at the Our Lady of Grace Church in Westport, but soon outgrew its inaugural location. Several scouting parents worked at the university, and helped arrange its new home.

“It’s all about raising money for scouts in Westport, but we do it in Dartmouth,” Forbes said.

Forbes noted with between 40 and 50 trucks, it’s one of the largest events of its kind in the region.

And there was quite a variety of trucks to climb, explore, and touch. Paisley Ricardo tried out the driver’s seat of a United States Postal Service mail truck, but her favorite truck of the event belonged to a concrete company where her uncle works.

Zackary Flanagan took a tour of a Massachusetts State Police cruiser, which was parked right next to a SWAT vehicle. Other vehicles included cranes, buses, moving vans, fire trucks, police cars, and even large off road pickup trucks. Dartmouth and Westport police and fire vehicles were also available to explore, as were New Bedford cruisers.

Proceeds for the event are slated to help stock the Westport Scouting Association trailer. Proceeds also fund events throughout the year.