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First responders test skills in extrication competition

Teams from across US, South America, Canada compete in Jacksonville

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – First responders put their lifesaving skills to the test Friday in a national extrication competition in Jacksonville.

Firefighters with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department were among several teams from across the country and the world competing at the Florida State College at Jacksonville Fire Academy in Sandalwood.

Crews from 13 departments across the U.S. and as far as South America and Canada raced against the clock to get a person out of a damaged vehicle.

They had 20 minutes for each part of the drill and used tools like the Jaws of Life.

JFRD engineer Michael Matos, the leader of the Jacksonville team, said competitions help keep first responders' skills sharp.

"Stuff like this helps us do better out in the street in the real world and get patients out of the vehicle," Matos said. "Every minute counts, obviously, when you have a traumatic patient in a vehicle. Two minutes quicker could make the difference between a patient living or dying."

This is the first year the competition was hosted in Jacksonville.

Winners will be announced at an award ceremony Saturday.

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Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 8 and 9 a.m. weekday newscasts and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.