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Thursday, 30 June 2005 17:00

SF teaches first reponders about dangers of hybrids

Written by Autobody News staff
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State Farm®, the nation's largest automobile insurer, is conducting a national education effort to inform fire departments and emergency medical service (EMS) workers about the potential hazards modern, high-tech vehicles may pose during a rescue. 

Concerns about the safety of hybrid vehicles after crashes is two-fold. Rescue workers could be injured when trying to save someone from a crashed hybrid, either by touching or cutting in a high voltage area, or by being run over by a car they thought was off - because the engine appeared to be off - but was actually in the silent electric mode.

Secondly, hybrid drivers and passengers injured in hybrid crashes could have their rescue delayed if rescue workers are uncertain about how to approach these new cars and are concerned for their own personal safety.

State Farm's Education & Research Facility conducted a free, interactive, live broadcast in June to provide information on recent advancements in automotive technology. Topics included advanced technology in hybrid vehicles, airbag systems, and high-tech vehicle construction materials. Emergency rescue workers from around the country participated in the broadcast live from numerous, local State Farm facilities.

Nationally-renowned automobile extrication trainer Ron Moore of the McKinney (Texas) Fire Department joined vehicle design professionals from State Farm's Education & Research Facility in Bloomington, Illinois to lead the interactive broadcast.

Video now available free online

A streaming video recording of the program is currently available for viewing online at www.statefarm.com/sftv/sftv.htm for interested parties to view for free.

High voltage lines in hybrid vehicles can produce between 144 and 650 volts - enough voltage to potentially electrocute someone. Knowing how to safely approach hybrid vehicles involved in accidents will save time and lives," said Bob Medved, senior claims instructor for State Farm. "State Farm is providing information to rescue workers about the new technologies in today's vehicles, which can impact the safety of both the victim and the rescue worker during an emergency extrication."

With automakers producing more technically advanced vehicles, rescue workers will see more of these cars involved in accidents. Rescue personnel will need to know how to avoid potentially dangerous situations," said Moore, who has published several books and numerous articles on automobile extrication. "Rescue workers need to keep up with the amazing innovations in cars today so we don't endanger our own lives or delay a rescue when time is of the essence."

Other timely topics in the broadcast

• Preventing injury from accidental deployment of airbags following a crash and during rescue, which can injure rescuers and victims inside the vehicle;

• Avoiding risks in convertibles from retractable roll bars activating during a rescue;

• And efficiently and effectively cutting through new lightweight, ultra-hard metal alloys, such as Boron steel.

Hybrids make up less than 1% of the new car market today, but registrations nationwide rose 81% to 83,153 last year, according to R.L. Polk & Co. With more than a dozen new hybrid models scheduled to be introduced over the next three years, firefighters are just now coming to terms with the fact that hybrids are going from oddities to mainstream and that they must know how to approach them.


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