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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When jacking the dash, again follow standard procedures. This time, make two parallel cuts into the A-pillar between the door hinges to create an opening. Open this notch by squeezing with a power spreader and bending the metal. Because of the unique crashworthy structural design of the VOLT, an additional cut can be made in the upper-rail structural area of the car, behind the top of the suspension strut tower. This cut will help the front structure to move as desired although this cut is not mandatory; it just helps if it is possible to be made. When working on the driver's side upper-rail area, you may encounter a small orange power cable near the vehicle's charging port. This orange power cable carries current only when the vehicle is plugged into a 120-volt or 240-volt charging station.
If rescuers must deal with interior components of the VOLT, it must be remembered that all four seats are individual seats due to the positioning of the high-voltage battery beneath the center tunnel area. The front two seats are bucket seats that slide on seat tracks and have adjustable position seatbacks. The two rear seats are individual fixed-position seats because the center tunnel runs between them. The seatbacks of these two rear seats fold forward, making a larger rear cargo area when needed.
The steering wheel ring consists of a U-shaped metal component wrapped with a soft outer covering. It is possible to cut away portions of the steering wheel ring with a cutting tool such as bolt cutters, reciprocating saw, or power cutter. With one cut, the steering wheel can be readily bent away from a patient if needed.
The steering column is a typical rack-and-pinion column with a tilt column adjustment feature. It is possible to cut through the steel center shaft of the column at the instrument panel using a power cutter or a reciprocating saw. The steel in the steering column shaft is typical of what is found on vehicles today.
As mentioned in Part 3 of this series, the 360-volt lithium-ion battery shuts down when the VOLT's ignition is turned off, when any of the eight airbags deploy or when the 12-volt power is taken away. On top of the center tunnel and between the two front bucket seats is a center-console storage bin. Beneath this is a large orange plug. This safety device, called the Manual Service Disconnect, or MSD, is designed to be readily removed by responders if you want to be assured that all high-voltage current is isolated to just the lithium-ion battery.
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.
RON MOORE, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is training chief for the McKinney, TX, Fire Department. He also authors a monthly online article in the Firehouse.com "MembersZone" and serves as the Forum Moderator for the extrication section of the Firehouse.com website. Moore can be contacted directly at Rmoore@firehouse.com.