Extrication Tactics For "Energized" Vehicles

SUBJECT: Electrical System Shutdown TOPIC: Extrication Tactics for "Energized" Vehicles OBJECTIVE: Given a scenario involving a person trapped in a vehicle that has its battery located inside the passenger compartment, the rescue team will develop a...


SUBJECT: Electrical System Shutdown TOPIC: Extrication Tactics for "Energized" Vehicles OBJECTIVE: Given a scenario involving a person trapped in a vehicle that has its battery located inside the passenger compartment, the rescue team will develop a plan for completing extrication work...


To access the remainder of this piece of premium content, you must be registered with Firehouse. Already have an account? Login

Register in seconds by connecting with your preferred Social Network.

OR

Complete the registration form.

Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required

SUBJECT: Electrical System Shutdown

TOPIC: Extrication Tactics for "Energized" Vehicles

OBJECTIVE: Given a scenario involving a person trapped in a vehicle that has its battery located inside the passenger compartment, the rescue team will develop a plan for completing extrication work while also managing the vehicle's electrical system safety challenges.

TASK: Using an acquired vehicle for a simulation involving the department's rescue equipment in a hands-on drill, the rescue team will demonstrate special tactics for dealing with an entrapment situation involving a vehicle with a fully energized electrical system.

It is simply a reality for all of us that we will respond to a vehicle incident sooner or later where we find a person trapped. According to national statistics, three injury-producing vehicle crashes occur in the United States every minute of every day, so chances are high that the "people trapped" call will come in.

This University of Extrication column takes this incident one step further. This month, we look at what teams can do when there is a person trapped but the vehicle they are trapped in has its 12-volt battery located somewhere deep within the passenger compartment. What do you do? The vehicle's electrical accessories could be completely energized. Do you have a plan on what you will do if extrication is needed before the battery can even be accessed?

It is agreed by all that the ideal situation at a crash scene where extrication work is going to be conducted is to have the vehicle's electrical system completely shut down early in the incident. Having the battery completely disconnected just makes things a lot safer for everyone — the rescuer and the patient especially. However, what about when the battery is not under the hood like we commonly find and it isn't in the trunk either? What about the situation where the vehicle's battery is located under a seat inside the car, for example?

One such example of the "battery under seat" design is General Motors' Buick automobiles. A large percentage of them have their battery located inside the passenger compartment. The Buick LeSabre, for example, has its 12-volt battery mounted under the passenger's side of the rear seat cushion. Talk about a Catch-22 situation: With people trapped, you may have to force entry into the car to make it safe to force entry into the car. Think about it. That's not a typo; it could be a reality.

Here's a scenario to consider. A Buick with three occupants takes a passenger-side hit broadside and both doors on the impact side jam. The B-pillar crushes inward and the adult riding in the rear seat is trapped as is the front-seat passenger. All three occupants are inside when you arrive and their injuries are significant.

At the crash scene, you are the crew assigned to electrical system shutdown. You stabilize the vehicle and force the hood open. No battery. Someone says to try the trunk. You can't remove the key from the ignition so you force the trunk open. Still no battery to be found. Now what? You check the front wheelwell areas for the battery, probe along the front bumper cover but no battery. It can only be one other place: inside the car. But that's where the patients are and the doors are jammed, limiting your access. Now what do you do?

Tactical Plan

Rescue officers and their extrication teams should have a tactical plan already in place on how this type of incident will be handled. This author refers to it as "hot" vehicle extrication; hot meaning that the electrical system is fully energized. It is really a unique challenge for the crew and your options are somewhat limited. Yes, you want to shut down the electrical system, but in this specific situation, you might not be able to as soon as you normally would. Plan for the situation where extrication work must be done with the vehicle essentially fully energized. How will you do each of your extrication tasks with a "hot" car?

This content continues onto the next page...