Electric Vehicles: Part 5

SUBJECT: Electric VehiclesTOPIC: Part 5, Chevrolet VOLT Extrication Procedures OBJECTIVE: Given a crash scenario involving a 2011 Chevrolet VOLT with occupant injury and/or entrapment, the emergency responder will understand and be capable of...


SUBJECT:  Electric Vehicles TOPIC: Part 5, Chevrolet VOLT Extrication Procedures OBJECTIVE: Given a crash scenario involving a 2011 Chevrolet VOLT with occupant injury and/or entrapment, the emergency responder will understand and be capable of accomplishing VOLT vehicle rescue and...


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SUBJECT: Electric Vehicles

TOPIC: Part 5, Chevrolet VOLT Extrication Procedures

OBJECTIVE: Given a crash scenario involving a 2011 Chevrolet VOLT with occupant injury and/or entrapment, the emergency responder will understand and be capable of accomplishing VOLT vehicle rescue and extrication tasks as appropriate.

TASK: Using an acquired junk vehicle for training, the rescue team shall study the information provided and practice extrication techniques as if the vehicle involved were a Chevrolet VOLT with injured and/or trapped occupants inside.

In Part 5, we continue our review of vehicle rescue and extrication tasks specific to the extended-range, plug-in electric Chevrolet VOLT. The rescue tasks discussed in this column focus on VOLT roof removal and interior entrapment situations typical of a hard-impact head-on collision scenario. The images are of the actual 2011 VOLT vehicle on which this author demonstrated extrication techniques during the 2010 Fire Rescue International conference in Chicago, IL.

Of the eight airbags on the Chevrolet VOLT, two are roof-mounted units. A deployed roof airbag will interfere with EMS personnel making patient contact. The bag can be cut away by responders to allow unobstructed access to the interior of the vehicle. When performing roof removal, the stored gas inflator for each airbag must first be located on the inside of the C-pillar by stripping the interior trim. It can be found on the rear pillar near the mounting location of the hatchback lifter strut.

The steel roof airbag inflator cylinder will have over 4,000-psi pressure inside it if the roof airbag is undeployed. A unique aspect with the VOLT roof airbag inflators is that once the interior trim has been stripped away in an effort to locate them, they will not be readily visible. The inflator unit is completely wrapped with the same nylon material that the airbag is constructed of. It is a bit challenging to locate this inflator.

In a frontal collision, responders may find that the front structure of the VOLT needs to be moved away from trapped occupants. In these situations, rescue personnel may find that they are required to move the dash and front instrument panel structure or deal with interior components such as seats or the steering wheel and column assembly.

In most cases, rescuers either jack the dash or roll the dash toward the front of the vehicle. The challenge with either of these tasks when attempted on a VOLT is that all the steel that you are dealing with is ultra-high-strength steel. Making any cuts in the A-pillar will require a power rescue cutter tool capable of cutting through these advanced steels. A reciprocating saw or an air chisel will not work. It will take a new generation of power cutter specifically designed for advanced steel.

Rolling the Dash

To roll the dash, if the roof has not already been removed, at least a six- or eight-inch section of the A-pillar will have to be cut out between the dash and the roofline. To weaken the A-pillar so it rolls, a horizontal cut will have to be made into the A-pillar below the bottom of the bottom door hinge. With the VOLT, make this cut go across the entire pillar as much as possible. It may be worth prying off the fender to expose the A-pillar and the upper rail to allow the pillar to be weakened by cutting.

The pushing tool used to roll the dash is generally a power ram. Follow standard procedures for placing the ram into position. As the tool pushes, the dash tie-down straps on each side of the center tunnel will disconnect from their mount on the top of the center tunnel. This releases the dash and allows good movement of the instrument-panel structure away from our patients.

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