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SE Kansas Notices Increase of Severe Vehicle Crashes; Fire Depar - KOAM TV 7

SE Kansas Notices Increase of Severe Vehicle Crashes; Fire Department Responds with More Jaws of Life Tools

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CHEROKEE COUNTY, KANSAS -

Firefighters in Cherokee County say this isn't about showing off a powerful tool.  They would get rid of their jaws of life tool in a heartbeat..

But it's getting harder to keep hearts beating.

"Typically, a severe accident would be if an extraction is going to take more than 15 to 20 minutes to get someone out," says Assistant Fire Chief Steve Hall of the Galena and Riverton Fire Department.

Emergency responders say the number of overall crashes in the county has decreased over the past few months, though severe crashes have increased by about 40 percent during that same time period.

"They're very traumatic, and there's a lot of chaos," says Cherokee County Sheriff David Groves.

The Galena and Riverton fire department now has four jaws of life sets.  Firefighters there say this is unusual for a department of their size and location.

"There are some times when if one of two things would've went wrong, or we would've had a certain call, we could've been stretched for our limitation," says Hall.

Law enforcement members say they're already stretched during certain times of the day.  Emergency responders say distracted driving has been the number one cause of these recent severe crashes.

"The Highway (69) is incredibly busy in the mornings and afternoons, when people are getting off work or going to work in the mornings.  The enforcement of traffic laws can be difficult because of the congestion of traffic," says Groves.

Riverton and Galena firefighters hope the time never comes when all four jaws of life sets are being used.  But the tools are there, just in case this sobering trend continues getting worse.

 The four sets of jaws of life tools in Riverton and Galena were purchased with "Galena Days" festival proceeds, and donations.

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