Pickup Truck Autopsy - Part 1

The purpose of this two-part article is to provide you, your rescue personnel and your department Training Officer with an increased awareness of the unique rescue challenges presented by pickup truck vehicles.


The purpose of this two-part article is to provide you, your rescue personnel and your department Training Officer with an increased awareness of the unique rescue challenges presented by pickup truck vehicles.

The purpose of this two-part article is to provide you, your rescue personnel and your department Training Officer with an increased awareness of the unique rescue challenges presented by pickup truck vehicles. Pickups have features and equipment that differ from what we are used to with typical automobiles. In this University of Extrication feature presentation, step-by-step procedures are detailed so departments may conduct effective hands-on training with acquired pickup trucks. If a pickup can be obtained for training purposes, this extrication information will allow crews to maximize their hands-on skills training.

Pickups have become increasingly popular in recent years. In fact, of the nearly 15.2 million vehicles purchased in the United States in 1997, four of the top ten most popular were pickups. Ford Motor Company's F-Series pickup, with sales of 746,111 vehicles in 1997, has remained the best selling vehicle in America for the past 16 consecutive years. Ford averaged selling one F-series pickup every 40 seconds of every single day throughout the entire year. The second best selling vehicle in America in 1997 was also a pickup truck, the Chevy C/K model. The seventh most popular vehicle sold in the US. was the Dodge Ram. Holding down tenth position was the Ford Ranger pickup. Totaled together, these four pickup models sold almost 2 million models in the US. in 1997.

This article is illustrated with color photos (coming online soon) depicting rescue evolutions performed on 1998 model year GMC Silverado Z/71 pickup trucks. Each truck was equipped with all standard equipment and had the extended cab feature complete with a passenger's side third door option. The vehicles were donated for this specific educational purpose by General Motors.

A complete hands-on training video program of all extrication procedures performed on these vehicle is available from American Heat Video Productions., Dallas TX. The two-lesson video program is organized into several segments and comes complete with written training materials. American Heat can be contacted at 800-845-2443. The pickup truck rescue programs are #732-0050 and #732-0112.

The Pickup Truck Autopsy Checklist
The basic philosophy of a pickup truck hands-on training session is to systematically perform as many rescue assignments on this one vehicle as possible. Upon the conclusion of the training, you'll find there won't be much of the truck left. Participants will have accomplished most all tasks that can be expected to be needed at an actual crash scene.

To begin the rescue training, our first objective is to explore various vehicle stabilization and hazard control procedures.

TASK A: Stabilize truck on level surface, resting on 4-wheels
Our first assignment requires chocking and blocking. Try to get the cribbing deep under the sides of the truck, contacting the full frame rails of the chassis. Crews will suddenly realize that the typical pickup truck sits higher off the ground than an automobile. Normal height step chocks may not be tall enough to stabilize the truck. Additional cribbing is generally necessary.

Remember to utilize large wheel chocks similar to what is used on fire apparatus to prevent rolling of the truck. Pickups typically have larger 17-inch diameter tires. The truck can actually roll right over a small 2 x4" block of wood placed in front or behind the tires. Just think, what if you had to stabilize Bigfoot at a monster truck rally?

TASK B: Force hood at front latch
Gain access to the engine compartment without using the normal inside cable release mechanism. Work towards the hood latch and attempt to pull the cable near the latch. The Hood Tool, a cable grabbing tool designed by a Tulsa, Oklahoma firefighter is outstanding for this evolution.

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