PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Just about every day, Palm Beach County Fire Rescue responds to someone trapped inside a car.
While all firefighters are trained in what to do, one group goes to the next level.
Two people trapped inside a car, leaning on its side. Every second and every inch matters
This is just training for the Palm Beach Punishers extrication team.
"We've got a diverse group spread out throughout the county, so our knowledge that we are learning in training and here on the pad gets transitioned really to the whole department," said Greg Tabeek, the incident commander for the Palm Beach Punishers.
Tabeek leads this team through the most complex crash scenarios.
It starts with assessing and stabilizing the scene. Then rescuers are underneath the car, on top of the car, and even inside it, doing whatever it takes to make the rescue.
"It's not so much the fastest you can get them out, but using the right tools and how you work as a team," Tabeek said.
One of the many tools the team uses to rescue people out of crushed cars is known as the "Jaws Of Life," which is always stored in the ready position to save seconds when firefighters arrive on scene.
"We've got that golden hour in trauma to get someone to the operating table," Tabeek said.
The Palm Beach Punishers are the most highly trained in the department, responding to some of the most challenging calls, like an Aug. 10 school bus crash in Lake Worth Beach on the first day of school.
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"One of our team members was the guy in the car making all the cuts. And I can tell you if it wasn't for him, I don't know that the guy would have been out of the vehicle as quick as he was," Tabeek said. "Knowing that guy is out here practicing with us multiple times a week, it definitely pays off."
And now these firefighters are taking their skills overseas to the World Rescue Challenge in Luxembourg, the only team representing the United States.
"We're training now that we want to go out and bring home that first place trophy," Tabeek said.
With that goal in their minds, the Palm Beach Punishers continue to train moment by moment, piece by piece.
"Overall the competition is fun, the competitive nature of it is fun, but at the end of the day we're making each other better for the citizens and visitors that come to Palm Beach County," Tabeek said.
The Palm Beach Punishers will leave for the World Rescue Challenge in Luxembourg in three weeks. They'll be judged on incident command and control, how they use tools, and the medical support they provide.
The team also competed in the world championship in 2019 in France.