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Laser tool could trim time needed to rescue drivers from cars

Two college students have perfected a device they say could slice minutes off the time it takes emergency workers to free someone from a crushed vehicle.

The Ball State University students say they're working now to make the laser cutter commercially available for use by first responders. The battery-operated device would enable rescuers to cut three minutes or more off of the time currently needed to extricate someone trapped inside a vehicle after a car accident.

The students say the device has more than speed going for it: it creates fewer dangerous sparks and is quieter than the hydraulic metal cutters used now by first responders.

The laser tool called the Beam of Life Device (BOLD) can in just six minutes carve its way through half-inch steel the length of a football field on just a single charge of its battery. That means it could cut three minutes or more from motor vehicle extrications that typically take about nine to 15 minutes now.

The students have a working prototype that has been produced by an engineer at the Naval Surface Warfare Center. Now the pair are trying to find investors who will supply the venture capital to develop a model that will fit its power supply into a backpack weighing approximately 50 pounds. The backpack would then connect to a wand a firefighter or other rescue worker could operate with a single hand.

While 50 pounds might sound heavy, it's actually comparable to the weight of the Jaws of Life tools currently in wide use.

Resource: Emergency Management: "Beam of Life Device Could Save Car Accident Victims" by Corey McKenna: February 25, 2011

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