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A snowstorm isn't the most ideal condition to use new extrication equipment, but the Neligh-Oakdale Jaws of Life did just that Wednesday night.
Antelope County Deputy Timothy Schultz said the Jaws of Life was called to the scene of a one-vehicle rollover at 6:58 p.m. about 2 1/4 miles west of Oakdale, which is often referred to as the Oakdale cut across between Oakdale and Highway 14.
With heavy snowfall and 40 mph wind gusts, Schultz said Heather Martinez, 38 of Elgin, was eastbound when she lost control of her 2005 Chrysler Town & Country van and slid into a deep ditch on the north side of the blacktop. Schultz said the van rolled onto the driver's side, making it "impossible to remove her safely without the Jaws of Life."
Schultz said it's important to keep a patient's c-spine in line, so the best way to remove the driver from the vehicle with minimal movement was extrication.
Dave Jacobsen, captain of the Neligh-Oakdale Jaws of Life, said the hydraulic rescue tools recently purchased through fund-raising efforts were put to use for the first time that night. Although members have trained with the tools, this was the first time they were used during an emergency.
"We used our new Holmatro Spreader and Cutting Tools, along with our Rhyno windshield shear," Jacobsen said. "The Rhyno shear was used to remove the windshield quickly ,and the Holmatro hydraulic tools were used to gain access to the vehicle to remove the patient."
Schultz said the Jaws of Life team removed the windshield and a portion of the vehicle's roof before removing Martinez.
Jacobsen said the new equipment was made available to local first responders thanks to the generosity of the community.
"We thank the surrounding area for the donations made to help purchase these state-of-the-art tools to help save lives," he said.
Schultz said the snowstorm made responding to the accident difficult. To ensure safety, the blacktop was closed from Oakdale to Highway 14 with members of the fire departments blocking traffic.
"It was really poor conditions to be out," Schultz said. "We had a fire department on each end of the cut across to keep everyone safe as they worked to extricate the driver. Everybody did a very good job that night, and I'm very pleased with everyone."
Schultz said Martinez was transported to Antelope Memorial Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Also responding to the scene were the Oakdale Fire Department, Neligh Fire Department, Neligh Rescue and Neligh Police Department.