Prairie Village police continue to investigate what might have caused a man to lose control of his red pickup truck near 79th Street and Belinder Avenue early Monday morning — but Police Chief Wes Jordan says officers’ quick work to deploy special fire extinguishers might have been the factor that helped the man survive the crash.
When officers arrived on the scene, the flames engulfing the vehicle were so high that they couldn’t tell whether there was anyone still inside. But officers used Coldfire Fire Extinguishers — the same devices kept in NASCAR vehicles — to douse the flames. Jordan said the department made the decision to start carrying the special extinguishers in its units because the department had been in situations in the past where officers on the scene could not douse a fire with traditional extinguishers, which prevented them from reaching people in trouble. The officers Monday morning were able to quell the flames engulfing the car after exhausting four of the Coldfire canisters. Firefighters who arrived on the scene shortly thereafter were able to extricate the man from the wreckage and transport him to the burn unit at The University of Kansas Hospital, where he remained as of Monday night.
Jordan told the Prairie Village City Council Monday that he had reviewed footage of the accident response, and was amazed the officers were able to save him.
“It’s hard to believe after what I saw that the young man is still alive, but he is and he has a chance to survive,” Jordan said. “He still has a lot of ground to cover, but he made it out of the accident itself.” Jordan said that his understanding from medical professionals is that the man’s chances of survival increase with each passing hour.
The victim, who is in his early 20s, had just moved to the Kansas City area from northern Kansas.