Hybrids Pose Special Risks for Emergency Workers
LOS ANGELES --- More and more local fire departments and first-response teams are adapting their training programs to include instruction on how to extricate people trapped in a hybrid vehicle after an accident. Hybrid vehicles pose special challenges to emergency workers because of the high-voltage cables that run from the motor to the battery.Use of “Jaws of Life” hydraulic spreaders and cutters, for example, could trigger a major electrical jolt if the car key is still in the ignition. As a result, trainers are working more closely with hybrid vehicle manufacturers to ensure emergency workers know the proper procedures. Equipment manufacturers are also introducing new tools to deal with the dilemma. For example, Hurst last month introduced a rescue tool that features special electrical current insulation and operates much like the Jaws of Life.“There is a real need for rescue workers to take extra precautions when dealing with hybrid vehicles,” said Bob Linster, vice president of sales and marketing at Hurst.