By Ian Dunbar, Rescue Consultant at Holmatro
Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best, often provoking the response: ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ Well since the launch of Holmatro’s inclined cutter at Interschutz in June, that is exactly the phrase heard over and over again. The CU 5050i, also called the inclined cutter, looks very different from a conventional cutter and is the result of two years research and development by a team here at Holmatro. A cutter that is not only lightweight, but has blades that are inclined 30 degrees. A very simple idea which offers improved ergonomics when dealing with modern vehicles of all sizes.
What is so special about the design of this cutter?
As with Holmatro’s other flagship product, a new compact and lightweight spreader (SP 5240 CL) weighing only 9.9 kg (!), the inclined cutter has been developed with the user and the application in mind. By making the user and the application the focus of the design, Holmatro inevitably ended with something that is not only an evolution in cutting technology but a revolution. Until now the choice of which cutter to purchase has been largely based on theoretical cutting force and blade opening. Now there is another choice for the end user: straight blades or inclined.
More ergonomic extrication
Extrication does not simply involve using a cutter (or any tool) in a comfortable, waist height position standing perpendicular to the vehicle. And yet this is how I have witnessed many people assess the weight, balance and ergonomics of a tool. We are all aware that vehicle extrication places a physical burden on the operator and therefore weight and ergonomics are an important part of the design of the tool.
More often than not, a tool has to be used above waist (or even head) height and conversely there are many applications where the tool has to be used low down. Making relief cuts into the roof or the sill/rocker channel are the most common examples of this. The inclined blades reduce the burden that is associated with such tool use by allowing the control handle to remain in a central position (relative to the operator) whilst still effecting the same cut that a ‘straight’ cutter would achieve. For the user this means there is less bending down or reaching up high during extrication.
Reduced tool movement towards the interior
The design and construction of modern vehicles presents stronger, stiffer and wider profiles and this is especially evident in A-pillars (low down adjacent to the foot well) and B-pillars where it meets the sill/rocker channel. If we take the example of making a relief cut low down on an A-pillar (as necessary during the preparations for a dash roll or dash lift) then the inclined blades greatly reduce the effect of any tool movement towards the interior of the vehicle. The same advantage can be gained when cutting low on a B-pillar (when performing a side removal) and in addition the inclined blades allow more efficient cutting. This is due to the fact that with this tool, the B-pillar can be cut by approaching from the side and penetrating it where its profile is narrowest. The 360 degree handle means that the advantage of the inclined blades can be realized in any position and on either side of the vehicle. The addition of the inclined cutter offers rescuers another innovative choice and the benefits are clear to see.
More details, photos and videos on www.holmatro.com
About Ian Dunbar: Before joining Holmatro Ian was a Training Officer in the UK Fire & Rescue Service with a background in both technical as well as medical rescue. Ian provides Consultation & Training to emergency services departments around the world.