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Jaws of Life

The Jaws of Life, or Hurst Tool, is a powered hydraulic mechanical spreading device originally developed by Hurst Performance and now under the registered trademark of Hale Products, Inc. It was invented in 1972 as an extrication tool for the race car industry and is now essential equipment in rescue, firefighting, and public safety operations. Hale Products says, “Because the tool reduced the time to extricate a victim from a car crash, literally snatching them from the "jaws of death", the tool earned the name Jaws of Life.”

The Jaws of Life includes two scissor-like aluminum alloy arms with tempered steel tips that may be provided with teeth to more fully engage the edges of the target object as the tool is operated. The tool is used by powering the gasoline engine, placing the points of the arms into a seam in a vehicle or structure, and activating a valve switch, thus inducing hydraulic fluid to operate a piston that actuates the arms by means of a rod and linkages. The arms spread out with a force of several tons (kilonewtons), thereby opening the target object to a rated distance of up to 40 inches (1 meter). The tool may also be used in reverse to provide a comparable crushing force.

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