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Handcuff Extrication
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By Captain Jeremy Speakes
March 4, 2012

Around 2000 this evening Rescue Engine 433 was dispatched to assist Engine 434 on an unusual public service call. A subject had taken a set of police handcuffs and very tightly applied them to one wrist. When doing this the subject had put the cuffs on in such a manner that the key holes were facing in toward each other and could not be rotated to access the holes to release the cuffs. Engine 434 had initially attempted to remove the handcuffs by cutting them with a set of large bolt cutters. This was unsuccessful and prompted the request for the Rescue Engine. Upon arrival the Rescue Engine crew members evaluated the situation and discussed options. It was determined that the two cuffs were connected by three individual metal hinges. The plan chosen was to cut the three hinges with the whizzer saw and then rotate the cuffs slightly to be able to access the key ways and then utilize the keys to release each cuff. In preparation for the cutting operation moist towels were packed tightly around the hand cuffs to protect the subject from the sparks that would be generated as well as to keep the cuffs cool during the cutting operation. Then two kitchen butter style knifes were slid into the gap between the two cuffs and below the hinges to give some additional hard protection from the whizzer saw blade. The rest of the subject was then covered with the extrication blanket for additional spark protection. The cutting operation then commenced and was over in about two minutes. As planned the cuffs were then able to be rotated and the keys were then utilized to release each individual cuff. The subject was then further evaluated for any injuries and it was determined that there were none and that no transport to a medical facility was required. All units then picked up and returned to service.

Note - in the week prior to this incident the members of the Rescue Engine had reviewed the following article on a very similar type of incident: Many of the lessons learned from this article were utilized in the Rescue Engine's operation.

Units: RE433, E434
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