KANSAS CITY, Mo. - When a person is trapped beneath a car or collapsed building, it may be a bag made out of the same material as a bullet proof vest that saves their life in the hands of a specially trained firefighter.
That was the case on Tuesday, when fire crews and special rescue teams worked together to lift a building off the car that crashed into it, then lift the car off three small children trapped beneath all using Kevlar air bags.
"You only want to lift as much as you have to and disturb as little as possible, because the whole environment is unpredictable," Captain Chad Daily, a rescue department veteran said.
Rescue teams have options when a car leaves someone pinned. One is a low pressure bag that looks like a beanbag chair that inflates quickly as it lifts a vehicle high off the ground, but can be unstable.
The more common option is a flat, Kevlar bag that can lift up to 70,000 pounds a few inches. Typically, that's all the room crews need to pull someone out from underneath a car or a building.
Crews use a combination of high-tech metal struts and lumber to brace a car as they lift it, suspending thousands of pounds of metal in the air safely while injured victims are extracted.
The chief of the rescue division, Todd Ackerson, is a decorated 29-year veteran of the Kansas City Fire Department. He credits the thousands of hours of training his teams receive for their professionalism and cool response even when it's children whose lives are in danger.
"They're professionals at what they do. I guess I would say this isn't their first rodeo," Ackerson said.
But, he said, rescue teams often include parents too-- and they all feel the pressure.
"It's always different with kids," Ackerson said. "You know we do the same things no matter who's in need, but I'd be lying to you if I said it was just the same no matter what."