Electric Vehicles: Part 3

SUBJECT: Electric Vehicles TOPIC: Part 3 – 2011 Chevrolet VOLT Battery OBJECTIVE: Given a potential crash scenario involving a 2011 Chevrolet VOLT, the emergency responder will understand recommended safety management procedures. TASK...


SUBJECT: Electric Vehicles TOPIC: Part 3 – 2011 Chevrolet VOLT Battery OBJECTIVE: Given a potential crash scenario involving a 2011 Chevrolet VOLT, the emergency responder will understand recommended safety management procedures. TASK: The rescue team shall study the...


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SUBJECT: Electric Vehicles

TOPIC: Part 3 – 2011 Chevrolet VOLT Battery

OBJECTIVE: Given a potential crash scenario involving a 2011 Chevrolet VOLT, the emergency responder will understand recommended safety management procedures.

TASK: The rescue team shall study the information provided and create a department guideline for initial safety management including vehicle stabilization and power shutdown of a Chevrolet VOLT involved in a vehicle crash incident.

In part three of our series on the Chevrolet VOLT, we will outline recommended safety management procedural steps that should be undertaken by responders arriving at a vehicle crash where a VOLT is involved. Although these tasks are appropriate for a VOLT, the original seven-step procedure featured here was first introduced in 2001 by this author for use in safety management of gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles. It remains a relevant and comprehensive guideline for handling any hybrid vehicle emergency as well as the new generation of all-electric drive vehicles that are being introduced in the United States. Responders should understand the purpose for each of the seven steps and then implement them as appropriate when arriving at an electric vehicle crash or fire incident.

The key words to identify the seven steps of the electric vehicle Lock-Out/Tag-Out protocol are Identification, Stabilization, Access, Parking, Ignition, Instrument Panel, and Electrical System Shutdown.

Identification

For responders summoned to an incident where a Chevrolet VOLT is involved, identification can occur in two different ways. All VOLT vehicles are provided with a complimentary one-year subscription to ONSTAR. With this very advanced telemetry system, the ONSTAR advisor will be automatically notified of a crash involving a VOLT. The advisor will be able to communicate with the occupants, pinpoint the exact location of the vehicle, obtain crash information and potential injury data, and notify the local communications center capable of dispatching the appropriate responder agencies — police, fire, medical, tow/recovery.

Once at the scene of the incident, identification of a car as the VOLT is accomplished by looking for the VOLT name, called a "badge," on any of three sides of the vehicle. The three-sided VOLT badging exists on the rear hatchback and on both front fenders of the car.

Stabilization

The second step of the safety management protocol for dealing with the VOLT plug-in electric vehicle is vehicle stabilization. Upon your arrival, the car will be absolutely silent. Silence for a conventional automobile typically means that its engine is shut off. Not so with an all-electric automobile. Stay away from the front of the vehicle initially. Use cribbing or wheel chocks at either front-drive wheel to prevent the vehicle from moving forward or rearward. Then for a vehicle on four wheels sitting on a level surface, place cribbing or stepchocks beneath the vehicle to stabilize it as you prepare to enter and attend to the occupants inside.

If your patient will simply be packaged and removed from the vehicle, then chocking and blocking is most likely sufficient stabilization. If rescue and extrication tools will be committed to the car, then in addition to basic chocking and blocking of the car, all tires should be deflated to settle the weight of the car onto the cribbing. "Chock, Block and Blow" is the recommended practice to follow when extrication is required. For a side-resting or roof-resting VOLT, use stabilization struts to assist in stabilizing the vehicle.

Access

The third step in the VOLT safety management protocol is access to the interior. Try any of the four doors first. Most likely, with approximately 80% of the structure steel being advanced steels, multiple doors will readily open. If a door opens, fine. If all the doors for some reason are obstructed, then go for a tempered-glass side window or rear hatchback glass. It is all tempered. Make a quick access opening to allow EMS personnel to get inside with the occupants who are now your patients.

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