George Hurst had the idea of creating a vehicle that could be used to transport his Hurst Rescue Tool, nicknamed ” The Jaws of Life” and other equipment to aid race car drivers in the event of a crash that caused entrapment of the driver. For this job he chose the AMC Gremlin. The Hurst Rescue System 1 was a complete rescue package equipped with firefighting, first aid, a 1000 pound winch and even a stretcher.
This car belongs to Murray County Rescue in Chatsworth Georgia. We are next to the Tennessee line about 40 miles from Chattanooga, Tennessee. When members of the all volunteer squad heard about the Hurst System 1, they contacted the company and a prototype was brought to be checked out. After seeing the “jaws” in action on some junk cars, the decision was made to buy the whole deal. Not being funded by any government, money had to be raised, lots of money, the cost was over $11,000 dollars and we’re talking about 1973. That’s about a years pay for a squad member at that time. They held bake sales, yard sales, boot drives and took donations to come up with the money.
Once delivered, they had the only rescue tool in North Georgia and went a few trips into surrounding counties to aid in some really bad accidents. The car has a 15,170 original miles on it. With it’s V-8 it will still move on down the highway. We have every piece that came with the car except for the original oxygen bottle, which was swapped for a full one years ago and of course things from the first aid kit. The water tank was removed to have more space, it really wasn’t needed in our rural county since a car on fire would be a total loss by the time a volunteer could get there. The county didn’t have a fire dept. until 1987 and the rescue squad remains a separate agency in charge of search and any call involving rescue on land or water. The Gremlin was taken out of “first out” status in 2002 due to requirements by the State of Georgia for certified crash rescue vehicles. The little car just can’t hold everything on the check list. It takes a one ton truck now to do the same job the Gremlin did for years. There’s no way to know how many lives have been saved by this car being there when things were bad.
Today the car carries it’s “Jaws” and two cycle motor, it’s still in service as a back-up when needed, but mostly used as a parade and public relations event vehicle. It turns heads everywhere it goes with it’s paint job and the fact it is a Gremlin. As far as we know it is the only one left in existence. We heard there were only about 8 ever built and they met their demise while racing to try to save another life.