The Muscatine Fire Department has some additional help to use in stabilizing vehicles and assisting victims of accidents with the purchase of four Power Hawk Auto Crib-Its. The purchase was completed through a donation by Cargill Ag Horizon of Muscatine.

“We have been using what is called a Stair Step Crib, which is made of wood,” Brian Martin, a firefighter with the Muscatine Fire Department, said. “I went to an extrication class up in Cedar Rapids probably 20 years ago and the instructor had a guy in house who put these together. They are just basically wood and you can tell that they [the ones the department currently has] have been beat up.”

The wooden stair step crib are pieces of wood cut and screwed together in the shape of a stair step. The stair step crib is used in conjunction with wooden wedges driven underneath the crib in order to stabilize a vehicle. Through the years they have been subjected to spilled or leaking gasoline, diesel, and oil along with hydraulic fluid from other rescue equipment.

“They were getting so old that they needed to be replaced,” Martin said.

Martin led the research into a replacement, and with a donation from Cargill Ag, the department was able to purchase four Power Hawk Auto-Crib Its.

Plant Manager Tim Bly and Production Supervisor Nick Rudolph attended the demonstration of the new equipment last Thursday morning at the Muscatine Fire Department headquarters.

“We have been looking for a way in our budget to purchase these and with your [Cargill Ag’s] donation, this was made possible,” Martin said.

The Auto Crib-It is rated at 2,800 pounds and is piston-actuated to stabilize a vehicle in seconds. The units are positioned parallel to or under the rocker panel on both sides of a vehicle to stabilize the vehicle to prevent side-to-side as well as front-to-back movement during extractions.

“When we come up to a vehicle we do not want it to move,” Battalion Chief Ted Hillard said. “We don’t want the vehicle to be tipping or slipping. Right now with those [the stair step crib], we can only do passenger cars. With the new ones we will be able to do light trucks to heavy trucks.”

The new equipment will make extrications safer for the victims and the firefighters by creating a stable platform. It can also be used in conjunction with 4x4s to raise a vehicle as high as needed if a victim is pinned underneath a vehicle.

“We are so thankful that we were able to get this equipment,” Martin said. “And we are thrilled to have these on hand. It is a vast improvement over the stair step crib.”