So today let's talk a little bit about cutters. What kind do you carry? Side cutting pliers (lineman pliers) or high leverage cable cutters (crescent moon shaped cutters)? Have you altered or improved them at all? What pocket do you carry them in? Have you practiced reaching for and using these cutters? If you have practiced with entanglements have you ever been allowed to use your cutters or told not to because people did not want to replace the cut wires?
All of these things matter! If you threw a pair of cutters in your pocket because one day someone told you it would be a good idea congrats, your about 30% of the way there. If you have never put any though into how or why you carry them when you do, please take a moment this week to do just that. Get out there and practice reaching for, removing and using this tool in zero visibility with both hands, one hand and your weak hand. Who knows, when you need them it may be due to a collapse and your good hand no longer works right.
Take a look at these cutters, they have a spring added in between the handle to make the one handed operation much easier by eliminating the need to manually open them up. Also, there is a rope to a handle which make removing them from your pocket easier.
Over the years I have carried different style cutters moving them between all of my pockets. For a long time I carried them in one of my lower coat pockets. Then one day when a few other instructors and I were putting each other through survival scenarios we had designed for a course I had to reach for and remove them from my pocket. It was extremely hard due to the thinness of the pocket cover and the waist belt of my SCBA. Now I carry them in my chest "radio" pocket. I say radio in quotes because I carry my radio on a strap under my coat but everyone still refers to that pocket as where the radio is supposed to go.
For a while I settled on a pair of side cutting pliers. Why? I had heard that the cable cutters had a hard time cutting through thin wires, they had a tendency to bend between the blades instead of cutting. Did I try them out to see? Nope, just took the information and ran with it. Turns out it is semi true but not impossible to cut thin wire with them. It is however very hard to cut thicker cable with the side cutters so those were pulled and replaced. Now I carry cable cutters.
The other day I thought to myself that I had not checked the cutters in my gear at my volunteer firehouse in a while. Just as I suspected, they were rusted shut. A lot of help they would be when I really needed them right! Things happen but that's no excuse. "Excuses are the nails that build the house of failure!!" -Papa T.
So I spent some time and cleaned them up and back to work they went. Key is, it is the little things, attention to details. Sometimes it is easy to forget especially in the busy lives we lead but the little things are the things that make or break the situation. Take a moment out of your day and check you cutters, make sure you have enough chocks in your pockets...
Anyways, enough of my ramblings for now, stay frosty and be hard to kill!