Tech Rescue

Gear Test: Infinity Bridge Rescue Access Tool

Issue 3 and Volume 9.

With all the gadgets and variations of traditional fire service tools, I was hesitant when I first heard about Infinity Bridge’s Rescue Access Tool, known as the RAT, and its worth as a rescue tool. I stumbled upon the tool on the Internet before last year’s FDIC, but wasn’t able to stop by the RAT booth long enough to find out more. Fortunately, in the Fall, I had the chance to get my hands on the tool during extrication training in Northern Illinois. And after spending a day watching 60 firefighters use the RAT, I decided to give it a try myself.

The RAT was designed to help firefighters gain access to vehicle components during extrications—or mechanical components during a machinery incident.

During my testing, the first thing I noticed about the RAT was its weight—17 lbs. Ed Whittington is the vice president of product information and sales for Infinity Bridge and also a retired fire officer. One of the tool’s inventors, Whittington told me that the weight helps the stinger tip bite into sheet metal with little effort. The RAT can be deployed independent of hydraulic tools, which provides rescuers with a secondary tool to use on scene and an additional plan of attack.

One of my biggest complaints during extrication training is how many firefighters love to bang and hit the vehicle to make a purchase point or force the truck or hood. Almost everyone has seen a firefighter swing the awl of the Halligan into sheet metal for setting up struts. That’s where the RAT comes in as a surgical tool. The stinger tip of RAT does that job with very little movement of the vehicle. The patent-pending conical threads can be placed in an opening as small as a quarter-inch and quickly expand the metal to reveal bolts, cables, etc., or only provide a purchase point.

The thread design of the RAT is different from a standard screw thread. The first three threads help pull the tool into the surrounding material and the other threads grab material and force it out and away. This creates a wider opening and better access to structures and mechanisms. The RAT can also be used for breaching doors on a building or other forcible-entry techniques.

The one downside: the cost ($995). Some might argue that you could buy four Halligans for the price of one RAT. While that is true, the RAT has much to offer. It is quick, quiet, controlled and reliable. Often extrication is completed by moving metal just inches in a smooth, controlled manner. The RAT gives that smooth control of a hydraulic tool while threading the tool to spread metal. The drawback here is the maximum spread is limited to the diameter of the thread on the tool.

The bottom line: The RAT is a great tool to complement the more traditional hand and power extrication tools. The price is too high for an individual firefighter, so that leaves the purchase to the department. I could see where a department may spec out a RAT on an EMS rig as a tool to use until the rescue team arrives on scene. But just food for thought: If you have a tool that doesn’t get used often, but then it’s used to save a life, the price of the tool is worth it.

sidebar-Rescue Access Tool (RAT)
Pros
+ Very little to no movement of the vehicle during use
+ A unique tool in the rig and in your mental toolbox
+ Can be deployed independent of hydraulic tools

Cons
– Price
– Can require multiple repositioning while spreading metal

Infinity Bridge Inc.
P.O. Box 554
Roscoe, IL 61073
Tel: 815-623-6576
Web: www.therattool.com
Email: [email protected]