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The instrument panel on this 2007 Nissan Sentra is a perfect example of the trend towards "hidden" airbags. It is obvious that there is no blowout panel here, although there is a full-size passenger frontal airbag between the ventilation outlets. Again, designers are objecting to the unsightly panel design and concealing the airbags out of sight but hopefully not out of mind for fire, medical, and rescue personnel.
Looks Pretty, But the Bag Is Still There Somewhere
This view of the passenger front instrument panel and dash area of a Lexus GX 470 SUV involved in a collision shows the glove compartment and some nice-looking simulated wood grain trim. Other than that, as a passenger, you are not supposed to notice anything else. A trained rescuer however, must be alert to the fact that there is a hidden airbag designed into this vehicle.
You and your rescue team should inspect various new and late-model vehicles to view the various passenger frontal airbag instrument panel designs including the increasingly popular "hidden" frontal airbag design. Become familiar with the hidden designs and condition yourself to always anticipate that there is a passenger frontal airbag present until proven otherwise.
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.