Scrap cars and life-saving training

By Allison Rogers

Standard Auto Wreckers has formed a special relationship with some local heroes.

The company’s Scarborough, Ontario-based yard welcomes the Markham firefighters’ auto extraction team every Wednesday morning, where the team trains on new scenarios they could very well be faced with a real-life emergency.

The crew takes its training very seriously—they were in Miami in November 2022 to show off the skills gained through its regular training sessions at Standard Auto Wreckers.

The team trains twice a week when the competitions come close. Training sessions involve a collision scenario, set up using Standard’s readily-availably supply of scrap cars. Firefighters, armed with sawzalls and other tools, descend upon the staged wreck to retrieve a dummy—a mock passenger—from inside the vehicle. The training is meant to simulate a real-life situation wherein a driver or passenger requires careful extraction from the vehicle.

While in Miami for their most recent competition, the team was tasked with rescuing living, breathing volunteers—a far cry from the bright orange dummies typically used in sessions. “Being in Miami took us out of our comfort zone,” said Brad Sterling of the Markham fire force.

Two teams from Canada participated in the competition: Markham, Ontario and Oakville, Ontario. Sterling said the Markham team came out on top, where Canadians were concerned, but he was left thoroughly impressed by other players.

“The top five teams were unbelievable,” said Sterling. “It was humbling to be a part of, to see where we stand.” “We’re great outside the cars,” explained Sterling, when asked about the Markham team’s Miami performance. “With opening doors, popping doors and getting in the car to see the patient.

“Where we struggle is removing the patient from the car. There’s a golden ten minutes—that’s all we have to get them out of the car safely.” Sterling said the training has instilled an incredible amount of confidence in the abilities of the Markham team.

“When we train, we’re always looking to tackle a challenge; those are the scenarios that prepare us for real-life rescues. We, of course, hope it never happens—but if it does, we’re ready for it.”

In fact, the crew was faced with a difficult extraction situation this past summer. While the incident was handled quickly and efficiently, Sterling felt the team could do more.

“I called my co-captain and we discussed what could’ve gone differently. That next week, at Standard, we recreated the incident and figured out how we could have performed even better.”

Standard Auto Wreckers owner David Gold is an integral part of the team’s emergency training and supports them every step of the way, said Sterling. “Dave has been amazing—no one has the kind of [training] setup he gives us here,” explained Sterling. “He came in with us for our second-round evaluation, and the judges even said to him that, without people like Dave, these competitions could not happen.

“Without Dave’s involvement, we would’ve placed 13th out of 12 teams.” Sterling stresses that funding for emergency auto-extraction training and associated competitions is not easy to find, which only compounds their gratitude toward Gold and the team at Standard for their unending support. And the partnership has no plans of slowing down. Markham’s fire crew continues to train on-site at Standard, preparing for the national competition in May 2023. For more information on Standard Auto Wreckers, visit


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