Total Sidewall Removal

SUBJECT: Total Sidewall Removal TOPIC: "Blowing Out the B-Pillar" Evolution OBJECTIVE: Remove both doors and B-pillar on one side of a four-door vehicle TASK: Given a simulation of two jammed doors on one side of a four-door vehicle, the entire sidewall...


SUBJECT: Total Sidewall Removal TOPIC: "Blowing Out the B-Pillar" Evolution OBJECTIVE: Remove both doors and B-pillar on one side of a four-door vehicle TASK: Given a simulation of two jammed doors on one side of a four-door vehicle, the entire sidewall shall be removed using the...


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SUBJECT: Total Sidewall Removal

TOPIC: "Blowing Out the B-Pillar" Evolution

OBJECTIVE: Remove both doors and B-pillar on one side of a four-door vehicle

TASK: Given a simulation of two jammed doors on one side of a four-door vehicle, the entire sidewall shall be removed using the "Blowing Out the B-pillar" technique

Almost any time a patient is trapped, rescue crews have to work with some portion of the side of the vehicle. If a four-door vehicle is involved in a collision, especially a T-bone collision, occupants can be trapped by a jammed front and rear door and by the inward crushing of the B-pillar. What procedures does your department use when confronted with the rescue challenge of total sidewall removal?

There are four different overall strategies that could be used to remove the entire sidewall of this vehicle. One strategy would be to have crews remove each door and the B-pillar individually. Another plan would be to have the front door opened and removed then the rear door opened and removed along with the B-pillar. A third technique would assign rescuers to open the jammed rear door at the latch then attack the jammed front door at its hinges. Then with a cut high on the B-pillar, the entire sidewall would be moved down and out to ground level like a wing. This University of Extrication column will discuss a fourth strategy; what this author refers to as the "Blowing out the B-pillar" evolution.

Total Sidewall Removal Evolutions

  1. Front door, Rear door, B-pillar
  2. Front door, Rear door with B-pillar attached
  3. Rear door at latch, front door at hinges, B-pillar cut at roofline, sidewall lay down
  4. B-pillar Blow Out

As with all jammed door evolutions, total sidewall removal cannot be effective unless the vehicle is first stabilized, the electrical system shutdown, the patient and inside medic protected, and window glass removed. Once all these preliminary tasks are done, total sidewall removal can begin. There is an unofficial benchmark time that this author has established for completing the "Blowing out the B-pillar" task. Once practiced by the rescue team in a training environment until the crew becomes proficient at it, the entire blow-out task can be accomplished by two rescuers with two tools in two minutes or less. For maximum efficiency, the two tools are a dedicated spreader and a dedicated hydraulic rescue system cutter, although a recip saw or an air chisel can do the cutting tasks as well. Blowing out the B-pillar is not a task for combination-type hydraulic rescue tools.

There is an easy-to-remember, easy-to-train sequence for the blow-out evolution. The words "Spread, Cut, Spread, Cut" describe the four fundamental steps that comprise this total sidewall evolution. Spread, the first step, begins by forcing the jammed rear door open at the latch.

Cut, the next step, begins after the rear door is opened. The B-pillar is cut into horizontally just below the bottom of the bottom door hinge. This is not a cut that goes completely through the pillar. It simply creates a weak point that will essentially tear once force is applied with a power spreader. One good, deep cut into the back of the pillar will weaken it enough that the power spreader can tear it off the vehicle.

Spread, the third step, involves strategically placing one tip of a power spreader on the outer edge of the rocker channel and the other tip against either the corner of the door or the lower hinge plate on the door. The intent is to spread the upper B-pillar away from the base of the pillar where the cut was made. After several small spreads, the spreader will be in a good position to separate and tear the B-pillar apart. The tool operator will see the daylight appear along the lower area of the front door; this is the blow out. You have torn the base of the B-pillar apart, allowing both doors attached to the B-pillar to move away.

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