Vehicle Lock-Ins

Subject: Vehicle Lock-Ins Topic: Protocols for Vehicle Lock-In Incidents Objective: Review the life-threatening hazards associated with a child locked inside a vehicle and train on department procedures for accessing a simulated patient in this...


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The Big Easy kit enables responders to actuate the door handle, manual lock button or electric lock button on more than 98% of all cars and trucks by operating the tool a inside the vehicle, not inside the door. There is a big difference. Responders begin their work by forcing the rigid wedge into the door-frame edge, maneuvering it so the top of the door frame starts to move away from the roofline of the vehicle. As the wedge is pushed deeper, it creates an opening that eventually allows the inflatable wedge to be slipped inside the door frame. Once in place, the bladder of the inflatable wedge is pumped up and the door frame opens even further.

Once there is enough of an opening between the door frame and the roofline, the long 56-inch tool can be maneuvered inside the vehicle. With a spotter on the opposite side acting as the “eyesâ€â€™ of the tool operator, the rescuer controlling the Big Easy maneuvers the tip of the rod in an effort to either pull on the door handle, operate a power door lock or press on a power window button. We’ve even used the tip to retrieve the keys lying on the front seat. We like this tactical approach to vehicle unlocking because it presents no danger of door airbag activation or potentially disconnecting internal door linkages.

TASK: Given an acquired vehicle for training purposes with all windows rolled up and all doors closed and locked, a two-person team shall demonstrate department-approved procedures for accessing a simulated patient locked inside.


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 Firehouse.com “MembersZone†and serves as the Forum Moderator for the extrication section of the Firehouse.com website. Moore can be contacted directly at Rmoore@firehouse.com.