In crashes where minutes can spell the difference between life and death, first responders to the accident scene need up-to-date training so they can act quickly and safely!
The First Responders Emergency Extrication (F.R.E.E.) Program is a four-hour course that incorporates classroom and hands-on instruction, including demonstrations of vehicle cutting techniques.
Keeping firefighters abreast on the latest new technology in vehicles is a challenge for every local fire department. Two CARSTAR auto body repair shops in the Kansas City area recently offered training on the latest in technology to area first responders. CARSTAR Metcalf in Stilwell, KS, offered training Wed., Nov. 8. CARSTAR Wicklunds in Liberty, MO, offered training the following night.
The First Responder Emergency Extrication program (F.R.E.E.) keeps first responders abreast of the rapid changes in vehicle design. High strength steel, airbags, advanced restraint systems and safety around alternative fuel vehicles are all covered in the training. The growing popularity of high-voltage hybrid and electric vehicles and the many safety concerns surrounding these vehicles make this training a necessity for first responders.
Alternative fuel systems present different challenges when first responders arrive at the scene of an accident. Electric cars, hybrid cars, natural gas vehicles…all these fuel systems pose dangers for first responders if need arises to “cut” the vehicle for rescue.
More than 80 first responders from Kansas City, Shawnee, Lees Summit, Liberty, Pleasant Valley, Birmingham, Riverside, North Kansas City, Grandview, Lenexa, Falls City and Warrensburg registered for this training.
“First responders need to know about these new alternative fuel vehicles on the road,” said Steve Hahn, owner of CARSTAR Metcalf. “We teach the firefighters how to be safe when working around those vehicles and how to disable the systems if needed.”
Hahn said the training included displaying alternative fuel vehicles. Olathe Toyota provided an electric car for display. Also featured during this training was how to deal with the multiple airbag and restraint systems appearing in vehicles.
The true strength of this program is the opportunity to practice “cutting” late model vehicles. Salvage cars were donated so first responders could get a chance to practice “cutting” vehicles in a controlled and safe environment. Salvage vehicles were donated by State Farm Insurance for firefighters to practice “cutting” techniques.
The F.R.E.E. program is a partnership between the National Auto Body Council and Holmatro Rescue Equipment. CARSTAR is a national partner with NABC.
“Our training and experience in repairing vehicles also translates into knowledge of how to ‘cut’ these vehicles in an emergency scenario. Holmatro knows the tools and techniques for extrication. CARSTAR body shops know the vehicles.”
JoAnn Tyler from Holmatro Rescue Equipment was the instructor at the events. The program will display key products used to increase the speed at which occupants can be removed safely from damaged vehicles. Holmatro is an international rescue equipment manufacturer.
Hahn added that the CARSTAR Auto Body Repair Shops are committed to helping our community become a safer, better place to live.
“Hosting the F.R.E.E. events is a way for our body shop to further serve the Kansas City area,” he noted.