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'Crash Course' Quick Drill Series - Part XVI

Unlike frontal airbags though, roof airbags do not have a vent hole to allow the pressurized gas to escape quickly.

Topic: Deployed roof airbags and your patient

If you haven't run into it yet, you will; a deployed roof airbag hanging down in front of you. It will obstruct operations when you are sizing up the interior of the vehicle for airbags or other hazards. It will interfere with you when you are determining the degree of entrapment of a victim. It will interfere with you when you are conducting any medical operations with your patient.

The semi-inflated roof airbag, hanging down from the edge of the headliner, must be dealt with when medical or rescue personnel conduct any interior operations at a vehicle accident.

The truth of the matter is that now is the time to realize that these roof airbags will be a problem and now is the time to plan on how you want to deal with the airbag. They can be removed without any hazard or concern. Just know now that this is a possibility and will have to be taken care of early in an incident with injuries.

All deployed roof airbags are inflated with a mixture of argon and helium gas under pressure. As soon as the airbag fully deploys, it begins slowly deflating. Unlike frontal airbags though, roof airbags do not have a vent hole to allow the pressurized gas to escape quickly. Instead roof airbags loose pressure slowly; sometimes remaining firm for as much as five minutes or more.

As a responder, sizing up the interior of the vehicle or making contact with an injured patient, the roof airbag will have to be moved or removed. Any roof airbag can be cut out of the way with a knife-like tool with no fear of a problem. There is no heat build-up to be concerned about. The pressure of the deployed roof airbag is not enough to cause any concern with the rescuer's knife punctures it.

Develop a plan now for dealing with deployed roof airbags at crash scenes. Plan on cutting the airbag away as necessary. Cut into the nylon airbag or cut away the airbag retainer strap to give yourself enough room to work on your patient.

Crash Course Teaching Point: Deployed roof airbags will be in your way when you access your patient or the interior of the vehicle. Plan on cutting the airbag away so you can see what you are doing.

Be Informed...Be Ready...Beware!

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