Anyone knowing more about this alleged incident is encouraged to contact this author. In the meantime, if any fire or EMS responders are responding to lockout calls and using slim jim-type door unlocking tools, you must be aware of not only the airbag injury potential but the potential for you and your department to wind up in court.
Firefighters unlocking car doors for citizens, thinking they are being the good guys can quickly wind up the losers in small claims court. Progressive fire and EMS departments have stopped this practice due to the high liability risk that is incurred. According to NICB, one vehicle is stolen in the US every 20 seconds.
Theft-deterrent innovations built into the car door by the manufacturer make the success of unlocking the door doubtful in the first place. Our probing around inside the car door can also disconnect or disable the side impact airbag system. later, if that vehicle were struck in a side collision and the side impact bags did not deploy, it may be a liability issue that will come back to the engine company "messing around" inside the car door.
If you receive a request for a lock out of a vehicle and you find a life-threatening situation, use your universal tempered glass door unlocking tool, the spring loaded center punch. If there is only inconvenience to the citizen due to being locked out of their car, explain the circumstances and they call the car dealership or a local locksmith.
The use of a Slim Jim-type door-unlocking tool has suddenly become too much of a risk and a liability for this fire department practice to continue. We need to rethink our door-unlocking protocols. What will your department's door-unlocking policy be now that you know the truth behind the Slim Jim hoax?