You can help a good cause …

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 20, 2000

In an instant a routine drive turns tragic as the young girl’s car collides with a dump truck as the two head down River Terminal Road.

From 45 mph to a complete stop in a few seconds.

Within minutes of the accident sirens announce the arrival of the rescue personnel.

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Nearly a dozen arrive with flashing lights and screeching tires.

Only as the sirens are switched off can the spectators hear the cries of the woman trapped inside the crumpled little car.

Her moans and cries for help send chills up the spines of the folks who aren’t in uniform, but sit transfixed at the horror of the situation.

As friends and family members of the victim begin to arrive, her cries are echoed by those who love her.

As the woman bleeds, trapped beneath the dashboard of her crushed car, paramedics access her injuries and firemen call for the &uot;Jaws.&uot;

Affectionately known as the &uot;Jaws,&uot; the Jaws of Life are a set of specialized tools that help rescue personnel cut through metal as if it were paper.

&uot;It’s gonna be OK,&uot; the medics assure the girl, but privately they are worried. They know she’s got internal injuries and her eye has been seriously injured.

Within a minute or two — which always seems like an eternity in such cases — the rescue rig arrives and within seconds the hum of the Jaws can be heard.

In minutes large hunks of the car are carefully shaved away offering access to the injured girl stuck beneath the steering wheel.

Carefully the sheetmetal is peeled away and the medics dive inside with a backboard to help remove the patient.

As the ambulance pulled away from the scene, carrying the girl to the hospital, the firefighters began disassembling the Jaws.

Once again a life was saved.

Although this particular accident happened a few years back, similar ones are played out all over the county each year.

And in Adams County only one set of the Jaws of Life is available for rescue personnel to use.

But a Natchez volunteer group, the Leadership Natchez Alumni, are working to remedy the situation – and you can help.

This Friday night from 8 p.m. to midnight, the 3rd annual Fireman’s Ball will be held at the Radisson Natchez Eola Hotel.

The band Stomp Inc. will again provide the entertainment.

Proceeds from the event will go toward the purchase of the county’s second set of Jaws.

Tickets are $20 per person and can be purchased from any Natchez firefighter, members of the Leadership Natchez Alumni or the Natchez-Adams County Chamber. For more information call (601) 445-4611.

The Fireman’s Ball is a great way to have a good time and help provide the best tools we can to those who help us in our time of need.

The Fireman’s Ball was begun by the 1998 Leadership Natchez class and continued last year. The combined efforts of the first two events paid for the purchase of a state-of-the-art thermal imaging camera which lets firefighter &uot;see&uot; through fire and smoke. The camera helps locate fire victims and even the source of the fire.

We all like to think that such tragedies will &uot;never happen to us.&uot; But unfortunately that’s not always the case.

Kevin Cooper is managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at (601) 445-3541 or at