Packexe SMASH has become the tool for fire-fighters during extrication situations, ensuring the dangers of broken glass are reduced for casualties and rescuers alike. The year 2011 has seen the number of countries worldwide where Packexe SMASH is in service rise to 29 and the number of UK fire brigades using it climb to over 20.
Early in the year, Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service adopted Packexe SMASH equipping each front-line appliance with the system. Hampshire Fire and Rescue is another brigade to have it on all front-line appliances. Mark Woods, Watch Manager Training Centre/OIC Botley, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) said: “Since the first evaluation of Packexe SMASH within the HFRS Extrication Team and Service Training Centre it has changed the way in which we manage glass. Packexe SMASH allows a dynamic approach to the way in which glass is managed, increasing safety and reducing extrication times as part of the vehicle preparation stage at an RTC. Since we adopted it as part of the Officer in Charge’s dynamic risk assessment, Packexe SMASH has undoubtedly improved the health and safety of casualties and rescuers alike. The product is innovative and easy to use and has also proved itself versatile for use when forced entry is required into buildings through areas of glass, giving a safe and efficient control measure.”
Malcolm Freemantle, Equipment and Procurement Officer for HFRS continues: “The time factors relating to vehicle preparation at RTCs prior to cutting operations can now be significantly reduced due to the new protocols adopted by Hampshire with the introduction of Packexe SMASH. Time is a crucial factor in tackling RTCs. The product allows our staff far more flexibility in the dynamic risk assessment of glass at RTCs, allowing us to take into account vehicle orientation and casualty position.”
In 2011, Packexe SMASH was seen and used in all the major extrication challenges, including the 2011 International Auto Extrication Challenge in the USA, the World and Australasian Rescue Challenges and the UK National Challenge. A significant highlight from these Challenges was the feedback from the casualties. This was exemplified by Jayne Hazlett, an acting casualty from the World and Australasian Rescue Challenges 2011 who said, “Until you are in a car and windows are broken around you, then you have no idea how much actually does fly about.”
During the World and Australasian Rescue Challenges, the difference in results when Packexe SMASH was used and not used were significant and apparent to all who took part.
Steff Dewhurst, Bhsc Paramedic Student, Wellington, New Zealand, who acted as a casualty, states: “As a paramedic student I believe it is vital that I gain an understanding of how it feels to be a patient. Being in a simulated car crash was very surreal for me, as I was able to place myself exactly into the shoes of a patient being extricated from a major accident. In the first incident I was a part of I played an ‘unconscious’ patient and was not able to move or communicate with my rescuers. During the rescue, as glass was being smashed there was a loud bang and all of a sudden glass was raining down all over me. The glass went into my ears, fell under my safety glasses on to my face and was all through my hair. I got such a fright; I jumped and was nervous for the rest of the rescue, even though I had complete faith in my rescuers.”
When the Fire and Rescue Service need to extricate a casualty, it is important to make the casualty feel calm and to sense that the situation is under control. An essential feature of Packexe SMASH’s self-adhesive film is its transparency, which is vital to maintain visibility at all times for the benefit of the casualty and rescuer. This will, in some cases, help to keep the casualty calm, as they will be able to clearly see what the rescue team are achieving.
Steff continues, saying “In the next incident I was a part of, the crew chose to use Packexe SMASH. The difference in the rescue was phenomenal. Not only was the noise of the glass breaking greatly reduced, but there were no shards of glass falling on me and I felt a lot more safe and secure. I didn’t need to worry about glass shards or sharp edges. It was great; the environment for both the rescuers and me was a lot more secure.”
To conduct an effective and successful extrication, certain equipment is required. The amount and variety of tools available is significant. However, the key focus is to create the safest and quickest route possible to remove the accident victim from the vehicle. One aspect of the extrication process is to break the glass whilst attempting to reduce the risk of injury from glass fragments for the victims, fire fighters and other emergency services. Packexe SMASH, a unique self-adhesive film and applicator, saves time, as the application can be completed by one person, allowing other fire-fighters to take care of the casualty. In comparison, the traditional methods that consist of hard and soft protection (body shields and blankets) have always proved to be a two- or three-person job.
By reinforcing the glass, Packexe SMASH has eliminated the need to forcibly break and remove it. The application of Packexe SMASH increases the strength of glass by approximately 42%, greatly reducing the risk of breakage. This allows fire-fighters to leave it in place whilst hydraulic cutting and spreading equipment is in use. If glass has to be broken and removed, with Packexe SMASH applied first, it can be folded and disposed of with ease, allowing a safer and easier clean-up.
Jayne Hazlett continues by saying: “I did find that the crews who used Packexe SMASH in the pits saved a lot of the extra glass from hitting us as patients… I got to experience it [Packexe SMASH] first hand in the vehicles and was impressed with the speed [of the extrication process] and reduced showering! We only wished everyone had used it, as we all ended up with small glass cuts.”
Andrew Orchard, CEO of Packexe Ltd states: “It is ground-breaking and amazing to hear how a true casualty would be feeling in an accident. We always believed that breaking glass must be a horrendous experience for the casualty. I think these comments have given myself and the Packexe SMASH Team more passion to drive Packexe SMASH forward into every Fire & Rescue Service around the world to help eliminate this mostly unnecessary and time-consuming practice of breaking glass.”
Joanne Cole, who was also a casualty at the World and Australasian Rescue Challenges 2011, was impressed at how the use of Packexe SMASH changed her view of being a casualty “Packexe SMASH made the experience feel safer, controlled and less frightening. When Packexe SMASH was not used I had glass fall over me, and I had numerous glass splinters in my palms. I did not experience this when Packexe SMASH was used. I also noticed there was remarkably less glass in the vehicle after I was extricated. I believe that all emergency services worldwide dealing with motor vehicle crashes should use Packexe SMASH.”
Packexe Ltd is a UK-based company with global operations. Its products are exported worldwide.
Founded in 1989 by the present CEO, Andrew Orchard, the company’s success is based on constant product innovation, both responding to and creating market opportunities.
Packexe Handy Wrap®, developed in the early 1990s, is a distinctive all-in-one wrapping and bundling tool, now used in a wide variety of international industries as well as in the home. The company’s stretchfilm converting technology and expertise allow it to offer industrial customers tailored packaging solutions.
Since 2000 Packexe has used its knowledge of plastic films to solve the problems of floor and surface protection experienced by builders and decorators. Existing protection methods, from dust-sheets to plastic or paper sheeting all have severe limitations in both effectiveness and safety. Packexe® self-adhesive protection film addressed these problems head-on, providing a quickly installed, leak-proof and slip-resistant protection system. The range, which is now widely available through builders’ and decorators’ merchants and which features regularly on DIY television programmes, includes four films with surface-specific adhesives to ensure excellent grip and no transfer of adhesive residue on surfaces from carpet to exterior windows.
Most recently, in response to demand from fire and rescue services, Packexe developed and launched Packexe SMASH®. This glass management system, consisting of self-adhesive film with an ingenious dispenser, allows faster and safer extrication of casualties from road traffic collisions, keeping window-glass intact while powerful cutting tools are used. Packexe SMASH has already been adopted by rescue services in over 20 countries and its use is now being extended to emergency glass management in buildings as well as vehicles.
Packexe’s streamlined production and warehousing systems, with a daily capacity of over 40,000 rolls of Handy Wrap and 300,000m” of self-adhesive protection film and Packexe SMASH®, ensure a rapid response to orders from all over the world.
Now, with over 20 years’ experience in a wide variety of markets, Packexe Ltd continues to develop new and original products to meet the needs of its national and international customers.