The Jaws of Life

Perhaps one of the greatest unsung marketing success stories of the past 25 years has been that of the Jaws of Life.

Take this story about an accident on the Confederation Bridge for example: “The bridge was closed for about two hours while rescue crews used the jaws of life to free the injured.” Or this story about an accident on the Charlottetown bypass: “Firefighters used the “jaws of life” to cut the youths out of the vehicle.” Or this story. Or this one.

Jaws of Life is a registered trademark of Hale Products Inc.. Originally developed by Hurst Performance as a race track tool, the products’s history page 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.”

What’s odd about the Jaws of Life is that whenever they are used to rescue someone in an accident, this fact is mentioned in news stories. It’s almost like the company has an product placement deal with media outlets. Imagine if every product, from ladders to hoses to stretchers, was mentioned, by its trade name, in accident reports.

While I can understand the novelty of mentioning the Jaws of Life when a fire department originally purchases them, or when they were a novel product, this has been going on for a long, long time.

Perhaps my friends in the media can enlighten me?

The How Stuff Works site has a good page that explains how the Jaws of Life work, by the way.


Ken's picture
Ken on February 24, 2003 - 16:50 Permalink

Probably because they are the only piece of new gear we bought for our fireman in the last ten years and they are in the habit of justify their expense.
Does every fire department in PEI have them yet?
If not, then keep mentioning them every chance you get.

Alan's picture
Alan on February 24, 2003 - 17:02 Permalink

Other similar brands which in themselves describe the substance — kleenex, skidoo, coke. But none of these save lives.

Oliver Baker's picture
Oliver Baker on February 26, 2003 - 19:25 Permalink

The reason newspapers use it I imagine is that they think it communicates what happened in the fewest words possible—although in fact the words just puzzled and annoyed me forever until somehow I learned what these things were. But besides succintness, I suppose the words offer journalists a legitamate excuse to use some appropriately romantic and dramatic language, instead of an unavoidably mundane and clinical phrase like “they cut open the roof of the car and pulled her onto the street.” In other words, I guess I don’t know exactly why newspapers use it.

Ken's picture
Ken on February 28, 2003 - 22:05 Permalink

Is there a machine called “The Buttocks of Death” out there, lurking?

Scott's picture
Scott on May 10, 2004 - 00:16 Permalink

There are now several manufactures of heavy hydraulic spreaders. What makes it sweeter for Hurst/Hale is that no matter what brand is used, the media says “Jaws of Life”.