Life-saving skills refreshed

Tim Hutton and Mark Daw train with new hydraulic cutting equipment. (Louisa Jones) 232554_01

By Luke Voogt

Tim Hutton has helped save lives at “hundreds” of crashes and trained several dozen recruits in 15 years at VICSES.

The South Barwon deputy controller joined managers from across Victoria training with new hydraulic cutters for the first time at Bell Park last Friday.

Known colloquially as ‘the jaws of life’, after a brand name, the equipment is regularly upgraded, Tim explained.

“The rescue tools that we use today are totally different to 15 or 20 years ago,” the 33-year-old from Highton said.

“A lot more high-strength steels and different pressing processes are being used in car manufacture.

“This new equipment is less than 12-months-old – it’s designed to deal with those high-strength steels.”

An increased prevalence of airbags has also led to changes in training.

“Some of the techniques that they used 10 years ago just wouldn’t cut it today,” Tim said.

“Older cars that don’t have airbags, we could just cut anywhere.

“Now we have to remove interior trims and identify pyrotechnics and gas canisters so we don’t accidentally cut through them or crush them.”

Tim followed his dad Brys, one of the founders of the South Barwon unit, into VICSES at age 18.

He has a cousin and uncle in the organisation and met his fiancée Lauren through the unit when she volunteered.

Tim is also a police officer, and urges locals to drive safely to prevent the equipment being needed in the first place.

He remembered attending a triple fatality as a policeman and watching VICSES crews rescue two surviving backpackers from the car.

“[The three deaths were] such a waste – a completely preventable loss,” he said.