Jim Rink (313) 336-1513
For the past 15 years, AAA Michigan has been quietly donating funds for ‘Jaws of Life’ hydraulic lifesaving equipment to the communities that need it most. To date, 55 grants totaling $835,000 have been provided throughout Michigan.
The grants – which average $15,800 each – are traditionally awarded to small communities that do not have the funds to purchase ‘Jaws of Life’ equipment on their own.
Two new grants were awarded to the Mills Township Fire Department and the Clio Area Fire Department during the Michigan State Traffic Safety Summit Luncheon conducted today (March 12) at the Kellogg Center in Lansing. A third grant will be awarded later in the year.
“Grant recipients are generally located on well-traveled routes that serve Michigan’s tourism industry,” said Kathy Harrison, AAA Michigan’s vice president, Public Affairs. “Therefore, it is critical to have state-of-the-art lifesaving equipment should the need arise. As an auto club, the safety and security of our AAA members and the traveling public are always first and foremost at AAA Michigan.”
“We are extremely grateful to AAA for the ‘Jaws’ grant that will enable us to purchase extrication equipment,” said Mills Township Fire Chief Brian Gilbert. “There is currently as much as a 40-minute wait for equipment to arrive from neighboring jurisdictions. Having our own set will shave valuable minutes from our response time, increasing the likelihood that we can save lives during the critical ‘Golden Hour.’”
According to Gilbert, Mills Township Fire Department currently does not have a set of extrication equipment, although 15 of its 26 firefighters are ‘Jaws’-certified. The township is responsible for 36 square miles but provides mutual aid to all of Ogemaw County and part of Arenac and Iosco counties, for a total coverage area of 576 square miles.
The Clio Area Fire Department covers 72 square miles, the City of Clio and the townships of Thetford and Vienna, serving 25,000 residents as well as motorists on I-75.
“With popular tourist attractions like Frankenmuth and Birch Run a few miles to our north, traffic is always heavy, consequently, auto crash response makes up a large percentage of department calls,” said Clio Mayor William W. Kovl. “In an emergency, seconds count and the ‘Jaws of Life’ are the best tools we have to save a life.”
Bob Kirk, longtime deputy state editor for The Detroit News, now retired, can testify as to the efficiency and life-saving ability of the ‘Jaws’ equipment donated by AAA.
On October 13, 1995, Kirk was traveling westbound on M-115 in Copemish and turning left into a gas station when he was struck broadside by an eastbound vehicle.
“I was pinned in my car,” recalled Kirk. “My legs were wedged under the dashboard. The ‘Jaws of Life’ crew cut the top off of the car and lifted me out. I was lucky to escape with only a broken collarbone. I’m extremely grateful for the ‘Jaws of Life’ extrication equipment that AAA so generously provided. Otherwise, I’d still be trapped in that car.”
For more information on the AAA Michigan ‘Jaws of Life’ grant application process, interested parties may contact Kathy Harrison, vice president, Public Affairs, AAA Michigan, 1 Auto Club Drive, Dearborn, MI 48126. (313) 336-1033.
For an online map of Michigan 'Jaws of Life' locations, click here.