Pickup Truck Autopsy - Part 2

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.



Also See: Jump to Part 1 of this series

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.

TASK L: Open third-door at top and bottom latches
If the acquired truck has a third door, a crew should simulate that it is jammed door. Their assignment is to force the door open at the top and bottom latch. By using a power cutter unit to cut into the top of the third door frame near the roofline, the top latch can generally be sprung open. A most efficient method of forcing the third door open is to use a power spreader at the rocker panel latch to force the door outward, pushing it off the rocker panel latch assembly.

Bottom latches on third or fourth doors are not difficult to force open as long as the door is being moved outward. This bottom latch is more resistant if you try to force the third door directly to the rear of the truck. That's not the way it normally opens so it will resist your efforts.

TASK M: Widen and remove third door at hinges
Again, with a third door present, the crew can force it rearward and use a cutting or spreading technique to completely remove it from the truck. Hinges on third and fourth doors are relatively weak compared to those found on the front doors.

TASK N: The "double-wide" door evolution
Working on the passenger side of the truck, simulate another jammed front door. The assigned crew will force this door open by attacking it at the hinges. On a pickup truck with no third or fourth door, once both hinges have been broken or cut, the front door should be removed completely.

If a third or fourth door is present, a "double-wide" door evolution can be practiced. The front door should be opened at the hinges. Simultaneously, the door frame/B-pillar of the third door is cut completely through. this releases the third door top latch assembly. Leaving the front door and third door attached to each other, place a tool such as a power spreader inside the bottom of the rear door. As the tool opens, it forces the entire front and rear door outward until is opens, allowing a "double-wide" side door evolution to be completed. This is a very efficient task that just takes a little pre-planning before the work begins.

Now, we will look at the single most effective rescue evolution that would gain the most access to all occupants of the pickup truck.

TASK O: Total roof removal
Assign a crew to completely remove the roof. Remind them to cut all seatbelts prior to lifting the roof. Request that the personnel cut the rear C-posts first on both sides before they cut the front A-posts. This sequence steadies the roof the longest until right at the last minute when both front posts are cut. Remember to set the roof structure in a safe area on the training grounds with the roof posts down. The same crew must then render all cut metal areas safe to complete their assignment.

At this point in the training session, we have completely removed all obstructions along the sides of the truck cab and above any trapped occupants' head. Rear seat patients in a crew cab truck would typically be accessed and extricated at this point. Let's simulate that a driver and front passenger remain trapped.

It's time now to get all that junk in front of them out of their way. Our training shifts now to working with the dash and front firewall assembly.

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