Part 2 of this series presents street-wise tips for identifying the rear design features of a vehicle.
Subject: Rear Design Features of Vehicles: Part 2
Topic: Identifying Rear Design Features at Crash Scenes
Objective: Learn to use visual clues to identify the rear design features of a vehicle
Task: Given pictures of vehicles, identify the rear design feature by proper name and explain how that feature could be used for patient access or removal
Part 2 of this series presents street-wise tips for identifying the rear design features of a vehicle. Armed with this information and the images of the rear of vehicles provided, participants will be able to gain experience in identifying the design feature by name and can explain how the rear of the vehicle opens under normal conditions. The definitions of the rear design features are included in Part 1 of this three-part series.
A lift window can be identified by several visual clues. Lift windows can have an exterior handle, finger grip or curved trim piece positioned along the bottom edge of the window, typically at its center point. This is where a person grabs the window to open it out and upward. If there is no handle, there may be a protruding button below the window glass. This is the release button that is pressed inward to pop the lift window open at its center latch.
Another clue to the presence of a lift window may be the hinges positioned along the top of the window near the roofline. These two hinges may be visible along the top edge of the glass, mounted into the roof and the glass itself. These hinges have black protective covers over them.
At the crash scene, you will be able to identify that you are dealing with a framed lift window if you see a one-piece solid frame going around all four edges of the rear window glass. This is the complete frame unit that will open up as the lift window opens. If the vehicle has a lift window that is unframed, responders will be able to see the exposed edges of all four sides of the rear glass. This, plus the presence of hinges along the top indicate that the vehicle has an unframed glass lift window.
Some vehicles, such as with the Ford model line, can have a T-shaped handle mounted below the glass in the metal body of the liftgate. This handle operates both the lift window and the liftgate. The handle is labeled to be twisted one way to release the glass and the opposite direction to open the liftgate. If the T-handle is present, so are the lift window and lift gate features.
A lift window is present if you observe two round black buttons about the size of a silver dollar on each side of the rear window glass itself. These are the mounting points for the window’s hydraulic lifting struts that hold the lift glass open. These buttons will be present if the lift window is unframed glass.
A power window retracts into the tailgate or liftgate. To operate this, there will be a small key slot control button somewhere below the window on the outer panel of the gate. The vehicle’s key is placed into this slot and turned to electrically lower or raise the power window. There will not be a handle to lift up the glass as there would be with a lift window design. The bottom of the power window glass will have gasket material where it retracts inside the tailgate. When the window is fully up, all four edges of the power window glass will be concealed inside rubber or plastic molding or trim.
A lift gate is present anytime you observe a release handle somewhere on the rear of the vehicle. This one handle releases the liftgate latch or latches, allowing the entire unit to lift up. This is the most common rear design feature for minivans. The handle is usually centered along the lower portion of the lift gate although it can be well hidden from sight by being recessed into the area above or below the license plate. In addition, looking around the outer edges of the liftgate, the rescuer may be able to see that the unit has a full, one-piece frame. The two hydraulic lifter struts may or may not be visible along the inside of the rear roof pillars.