Adjusting Extrication Techniques: Modified Dash Life (MDL)

(This is part two of a two-part series.)

In part two of this two part series, the Extrication.Com Modified Dash Lift (MDL)will be introduced with step by step instructions. The MDL can be performed with limited reach spreading tools such as a combination tool.


Modified Dash Lift with Pusher Ram

Modified Dash Lift (MDL)

The original conventional dashboard roll and lift had the responder remove all glass, roof removal or displace (flap), with or with door on, all of which consumes time. I modified the technique to streamline tasks. Key MDR was removing the windshield, severing the upper top rail or apron, windshield pillar and the base of the A-pillar using only two tools. Once these tasks are done a vertical lift or roll that can be accomplished using a large spreader and reducing the over all time from 15 to 20 minutes to four to six minutes or less. The best recorded MDR time was performed by a former instructor at an actual rescue in Fairfax County, VA (2:42 minutes). The MDL further reduces the overall time by reducing required tasks.

To execute the MDL technique, the responder needs only to accomplish four key tasks:

  1. Remove the Windshield
  2. Sever the Top of the Wind Shield Pillar (A-Pillar)
  3. Spread (Horizontally) Apart the Base of the A-Pillar through the Wire Bundle Opening
  4. Insert Spreader Tips In the new Gap and Lift Vertically

For the purpose of our demonstration for this article we used the all electric Power Hawk P4, P4w (large curved) Cutter, spreader arms with standard tips: Maximum force at the base of the tips is 38,400 lbf, with a maximum reach of 16 inches.

Hyper Extending MDL With Single Pusher Ram

“Modified Dash Lift” By Tasks

  1. Stabilize, Immobilize and Disable the Vehicle As Required
  2. Unlatch Hood
  3. Remove the Windshield
  4. Sever the Top of Windshield Pillar
  5. Remove Door
  6. Displace Kick Panel
  7. Position Spreader Tips Horizontally Deep Into Wire Bundle Opening In the A-Pillar
  8. Spread Tips Horizontally To Breach Wire Bundle Opening
  9. Reposition the Tool “Upright” In the Gap So the Tips Are Inserted Deep Into the Double Wall
  10. Spread to Lift the Dash Up

Note: If additional lift is required due to a limited reach of a combination tool or other spreading tool with a limited reach, a mechanical ram(s) with or with extensions can be used. For the purpose of our demonstration for this article we used the Power Hawk Pusher Rams and Extensions. The Pusher Rams are mechanical and can be used with any combination tool or spreader regardless of make.

Using A Mechanical Ram
To Extend The Reach

If more lift is required when using a smaller tool, such as combination or small spreader, mechanical ram(s) are well suited to enhance the displacement and extend the lift to the point that the dash can be hyper extended to lay over the vehicle’s cowl area. 

For this article we have used the Power Hawk Pusher Rams and Extensions. The Pusher Rams come in two sizes and can be threaded together or additional length can be added by using ram extensions.

The Modified Dash Lift technique is simply “one more tool in the box.” It does not replace any one technique, and unless the responder follows directions it can fail as any technique can. This is the easiest of dashboard techniques that I have used and has many benefits such as:

  • Reduces Overall Time To Mitigate A Rescue
  • Reduces the Need For Many Tools To (two) Or Less
  • Reduces Manpower Requirements
  • Avoids Cutting Areas Where High Strength Steel May Be Located

The real time saving comes from not removing all the glass in the vehicle, the roof and making relief cuts for other dashboard techniques that include our Modified Dash Roll.

When using rescue tools to push or pull our objective is to overcome resistance implied by the deformity of the crash vehicle. Reducing your resistance will greatly improve your success of any technique.

All photos are courtesy of Extrication.Com, written permission for reproduction is required.


Len Watson, RESQMED: “Boron Steel In Vehicles – Implications of HSLA/UHSS and Boron Steels for Rescuers”

Reference.Com: Boron Steel

Technical Tool Advisors

James Bundren, US National Sales Manager, ResQTec, Rockaway, NJ

Rodney Miller, Northeast Regional Sales Manager, Power Hawk, Rockaway, NJ

John McCarthy, Vice President Power Hawk, Rockaway, NJ

Dennet Wempe, ResQTec Customer Service Manager, Lisse, Netherlands

Doug Sato, Automotive Engineer, Toyota Motor Sales of US, Torrance, Ca

By Ron Shaw

Ron Shaw, Lieutenant (Retired) Plymouth MA Fire Department with over 29 years of service, associate member of the St. Thomas Rescue, Inc., St. Thomas USVI, State and National Fire Service Instructor, vehicle safety/rescue author and owner/lead instructor for Extrication.Com. Photo Courtesy of Solutia, Inc. (Eastman Chemical Company).

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