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Monday, February 21, 2011

Her Seat Belt Trap

It was a lazy Saturday afternoon. The rain that had been coming down for several days now had mellowed out everyone and things were quiet. Some of us were on our safety nap, others were on the computer and others still were watching the glowy box. That's when the phone rang (if there was a way to may a ringing phone sound go off right now it would be great but since I can't, use your imagination).

I picked up the phone and discovered that it was the ranger down the road. He said that he had found something interesting. Someone had gotten themselves stuck in their seat belt and had stopped by the state park to get help. He had just sent them our way.


Out in front of our station pulled up a small SUV. There were three women in it, a grandmother, mother and daughter. The young woman in back had decided to lay down to sleep while on their drive. Thinking 'safety first' she decided to wrap the seat belt around her waist in a manner similar (but more knotted) to the girl in the above photo. She then stretched out on the back seat. 

When she awoke she sat back up. This is when she learned something about seat belts. When pulled all the way out, the seat belt pretensioner (#47 in the drawing below) will only allow the belt to retract (don't believe me, go try it out on your car). This is done so that the belt can be used to strap down car seats. When she sat up she unknowingly cinched the belt tight, trapping her.

Her mom and grandmother were good sports about the entire situation. They laughed and made fun of their daughter the entire time. We tried to slide, push, pull and contort this poor girl in every way imaginable to get her free. Once we exhausted our Tetris skills we decided something else would have to be done. 


Using the vast knowledge of automotive design that all firefighters have (ok, I really just followed the belt until I found a bolt, #40 in this drawing, that I could take off) I found the point at which the seat belt bolts into the frame of the vehicle and decided that was our best course of action. Do you have any idea how long it takes to unbolt something like that when you can only turn the bolt 1/8 of a turn at a time. 

A few minutes later we had our victim freed and and the vehicle put back together. 

While looking for the picture of someone twisted up in the seat belt I noticed that almost all the videos and photographs of people that have been stuck are of women. I'm sure there's a joke in there some where, I'm just not sure I want to make it....

10 comments:

Dom said...

Wow...

Jen at Cabin Fever said...

Ha.

"I'm not as think as you smart I am"


You're so nice for dismantling it rather than just cutting the strap!

Missie said...

I have to agree with Jen, that you were very nice to just dimantle and not cut the belt! Thanks for becoming a follower of my blog as well. I have been quite amused by some of your posts! I have previously worked in the Fire/EMS Service, so I'm able to relate quite a bit! Thanks again!

kipspop said...

What????? You passed up a chance to use your Spiderco?

Hydrant girl said...

It's cause us women always have safety in mind - a man would've laid down for a nap without a seatbelt. Yeah, that's it....

Firefighter/Paramedic said...

I'm surprised that so many people wanted me to cut the belt. I was tempted but that is something a cop would do. We're better than that.

Hydrant Girl- I'm sure that's what it is...

Lizzie said...

I still don't understand the tying/knotting of the belt. I've gotta admit, I've stretched out to sleep more than a few times but the belt is always just around my pelvis. Over and under. Any idea what made her decide to tie it?

Firefighter/Paramedic said...

I don't think that she tried to tie it in a knot. It seemed that she may have twisted while laying down and ended up getting stuck.

Diane Laney Fitzpatrick said...

The fact that you mentioned "Tetris skills" says it all: Cutting the seat belt would be cheating and taking the easy way out. You had to solve the puzzle! I completely understand.

I love your blog. I think the dawn of the Internet age and blogging has an overall importance and it's this: I never would have seen the world through the eyes of an firefighter or paramedic until now. Fascinating.

Firefighter/Paramedic said...

Diane- I'm glad you enjoy the blog. And contrary to what it may look like at a big fire but we actually try to cause as little damage as possible (sometimes we fail).

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