It only takes a matter of seconds for a car journey to end in a crash.

Firefighters attended 605 road accidents in West Yorkshire last year.

Drink or drug driving, racing or road rage can lead to devastating accidents – but so can bad weather, loss of concentration or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Once a serious accident happens the race is on for firefighters who battle against the clock to free casualties to give them a better chance of survival.

And sitting semi sideways in an upturned car myself, it is easy to understand the terror felt by the casualty who has come round in a mangled wreck.

The voices of firefighters suddenly appear from all angles after the eerie silence of the crash.

At least eight people had arrived to help free me, a number that would quickly rise if more casualties are identified.

It was the beginning of what can be a long process to get casualties out of the car safely.

Although the car door lay just a few metres overhead, it was not a simple case of dragging me straight up and out.

Told that I had unknown injuries and was suffering from concussion, doing so could have made my condition even worse.

A casualty carer managed to drop himself down into the car, where they work with an outside paramedic to monitor a casualty’s condition and keep them safe during the rescue operation, which can take over an hour.

The car shakes with the sound of bangs from behind as the crew outside worked with hydraulic tools to remove the boot to slide me out.

This is the first of two plans that all crews attending crashes create in case a situation rapidly changes.

This is most commonly used when there is a deterioration in the casualty and the paramedic calls for a their instant removal.

Plan B, to remove the entire roof instead, is put into play soon after, when the paramedic makes the call.

A reciprocating saw, which has a push and pull action, is used to slice into the windscreen and the roof, which is then peeled back.

It then takes the whole team to slide me onto the body board and out of danger.

It is definitely an experience I never want to have in real life.

Greg Pearce, one of Cleckheaton’s casualty carers, told of the harrowing incidents he has had to face.

“I’ve unfortunately been to many over 11 years,” he said.

Firefighters exercise cutting Examiner reporter, Chloe Glover from a car in a simulated accident.
 

“The worst one recently was last year, when I attended a crash where two young men had died after racing.

“Another was still alive, but it was very difficult to get him out and we had to cut away much of the vehicle to free him.”

The accident involved Ben Brearcliffe, 20, and Michael Hudson, 19, who died on Ovenden Road in Halifax.

A total of four people died in Kirklees in 2014, while 87 were injured.

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Huddersfield Fire Station watch commander Andy Wooler led the training session, which is carried out every couple of months to ensure all firefighters are prepared for the worst.

Andy said: “Sometimes you get to a crash and the car is so badly smashed, sometimes even bent in half and I question how are we going to even begin.

“But we understand that it is a highly technical job and we work as a team to do the best we can.

“The adrenaline kicks in and we just focus on doing our job so that emotions don’t get in the way.

“If people just slowed down it would make all the difference.”

He and other firefighters can often be found in schools and other community centres to warn of the dangers of driving dangerously.

They are a driving force behind a cross service initiative, Kirklees Road Safety Partnership, which district commander Chris Kirby is the chairman of.

It could already be having some impact, looking at the reduction in accidents in between 2012 and 2014.

He said: “We are not just about the response.

“Responding to accidents is the last stage. We try to educate people so that horrific scenes like this never happen.

“The teams do fantastically well and it’s thanks to Motorhog that we can continue to practice in such a good environment.”

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