Collision Size-Up

SUBJECT: Collision Size-Up
TOPIC: Developing a Rescue Action Plan for Hard-impact Side Collisions
OBJECTIVE: Given a vehicle with collision damage to one side and the simulation of a person trapped, the rescuer will develop an action plan for opening and removing that side of the vehicle, including the front door, rear door, B-pillar, and/or sidewall panel.
TASK: The rescue officer shall size-up and develop a plan of action that identifies the challenges presented by a side-impact collision, and create a “Plan A†and a “Plan B†action plan that will result in door, B-pillar, and sidewall structure removal.

Such is the case with hard-impact side collisions. Although each “T-bone†is different, as one looks at them from a rescuer’s point of view, there is usually an overall strategy that can be applied to successfully solve the entrapment problems found.

This month, three typical side-impact-crash case studies are discussed with guidance on developing a rescue action plan for each. The rescue officer at a side-impact incident must develop an overall extrication strategy that includes the following considerations:

Assessment of the degree of side intrusion into the occupant area
Condition of front door at latch and hinge end
Condition of the B-pillar
Condition of rear door at latch and hinge end
Condition of rear sidewall (two-door vehicle)

Photo 1: A “typical†side-impact collision involving a Mazda 626 two-door coupe is shown. The rescue officer must stand at this rear fender location to determine the degree of intrusion. It sets the stage for assessing the occupant’s mechanism of injury and the degree of entrapment problems that can be anticipated. From this key position, you can see where the rocker channel is now and realize where it used to be. The difference is the all-important intrusion distance.

Photo 2:

Photo 3:

Photo 4:

Photo 5:

Photo 6:

Photo 7:

Photo 8:

Photo 9:

Ron Moore, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a battalion chief and the training officer for the McKinney, TX, Fire Department. He also authors a monthly online article in the “MembersZone†and serves as the Forum Moderator for the extrication section of the website. Moore can be contacted directly at