10/08/2009

NY responders get lifesaving tool for crashes


By Nancy A. Fischer
The Buffalo News

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The rescue of a woman in a fiery crash a few months ago has led to the equipping of first responders in the Niagara County Sheriff's Office with a tiny lifesaver called ResQMe.

ResQMe — about the size of a finger and designed to be attached to a key chain — can shatter a window with the help of a tiny attached hammer. It also features a small knife capable of cutting a seat belt.

On Aug. 29, Deputy Roger Schreader, who also serves as chief of the Cambria Fire Department, had little time to maneuver as he responded to a woman trapped in a vehicle that was on fire. But he was able to punch out a window in the vehicle using a large flashlight and pull the woman to safety. Moments after she was freed, the vehicle was engulfed in flames.

Chief Deputy Steven Preisch said that after that incident, officials realized that most deputies don't carry heavy flashlights or knives on their utility belts anymore. He said he was contacted by a friend, a trooper in another state who saw Schreader's story online in The Buffalo News and told him about ResQMe.

"We looked at each other after this happened and said this is something we have to look at," Preisch said. "I was skeptical at first, but we tested it, and it worked great. It's even designed to go underwater."

"It takes virtually no effort to pop the window," Administrative Capt. Michael J. Filicetti said as he tried the device.

Preisch said he ordered 70 of them for the uniform division through Gui's Lumber owner Kurt Villani who sold them to the sheriff's office at cost and donated $200 to defray the cost.

"He said he was very happy to do it and it was for a good cause," Preisch said.

Sheriff James R. Voutour said the lifesavers cost his department $380, and deputies plan to carry them whether on duty or off duty.

"It's one extra tool for our first responders and gives us the extra edge," he said. "How often do you hear about accidents and hear about firemen who were driving by or nurses who were driving by and were able to help someone? Police officers are in their cars a lot, too. Rarely are their fiery crashes, but even if it saves one life in 10 years, it will be worth it."

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