PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Phoenix Fire crews faced several challenges Monday night saving five people involved in a wrong-way crash.

According to the Arizona Department of Safety, a 40-year-old man from Cave Creek was driving the wrong-way car that crashed into several other cars traveling southbound on I-17 near Thomas Road. Firefighters were seen working to free the man from the mangled wreckage.

[WATCH: Phoenix firefighters explain challenges in saving victims trapped in cars on freeway]

“Obviously, you saw the video, it’s catastrophic,” says Phoenix Fire Capt. Rob McDade.

McDade says crews are in constant communication as they navigate heavy traffic on the freeway. Once they arrive at a wrong-way crash, McDade says firefighters rely on their training to come up with a quick strategy to help everyone hurt. The debris often poses a problem.

“We’re going to need the ram, we’re going to need the spreader,” says McDade.

[RELATED: DPS: Drug impairment suspected in wrong-way crash on SB I-17 in Phoenix]

Investigators say the wrong-way driver suffered life-threatening injuries and was likely high on drugs. DPS says a 61-year-old Surprise man, a 20-year-old Phoenix man with a 20-year-old woman passenger, and a 19-year-old Phoenix man were hurt in the collision. Two of the victims suffered serious injuries.

[MAP: 2019 Wrong-way driving incidents in Arizona]

When it comes to wrong-way crash scenes, McDade says time crucial. As crews are trying to remove patients trapped in their cars, medics are often initiating treatment at the same time.

“We’re telling them, ‘We’re here to rescue you, stay calm. We’re going to get you out of this car,’” says McDade. “Reassuring, that goes a long way.”


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