Where Will They Hide the Inflator Next?
This image of an Audi A3 vehicle sold in Europe is the first time that the fire and rescue service has been informed of a new mounting location for stored gas inflator modules connected to the roof-mounted side impact airbag system.
To address the "art" of finding these inflators at rear-world crashes, we have already accepted the fact that we must strip away the roof pillar trim prior to any cutting operation. Now, if this design makes it to vehicles sold in the U.S., we'll have to expand that protocol to 'strip the roof pillar trim AND the headliner' prior to a roof cutting operation.
Location of Side Impact Curtain Inflator/Squib
While it may seem like the industry has another hidding place for us all to have to worry about, perhaps the industry is starting to look at the responder concerns after all. If you lookover some some of the locations of the side impact curtain or IC that Ron Moore has on the UE, they have moved from the rear pillar to the roof rail, and now to the rear headliner at the rear pillar. To be perfectly honest, I couldn't be more pleased.
The IC in my oppinion is one of best designed safety devices. It not only protects against side impact, it helps reduce glass shards/pellets from entering the occupant cabin and inflicting injury to the occupant. The IC in conjunction with seatbelts reduces injuries and ejection during a rollover. The IC is here to stay, like any other new technology device we need to up date our procedures and training while performing extrication. Patient care should not be compromised because of active SRS devices. Time and distance are your best allies. Time: Use your battery power to your advantage, then disconnect the power source to drain down SRS capacitor reserve time. Distance: Distance yourself from all active airbags, don't put any hard device between any active airbag.
I am sure most of you have herd of Ron Moore speak of scanning. On top of our shoulders we have the worlds most powerful computer. Lets vissualize the scene and link up to that computer to process what we scan. Scan the vehicle 360 degrees around, out from the vehicle, in toward and under the vehicle. You will be looking for all hazards including SRS, mechanisms of injury, number of patients and their condition. Then let your the computer formulate an action plan.
If you don't know SRS common teltale signs or icons, browse through some of Moore's articles or threads in the forum and I am sure you will find the SRS icons, which will help you determine where and what type SRS device you have. At this point in time, there are no "dual action" IC so you won't have to worry about them deploying twice.
If there is an IC, is it nececssary to displace a roof or can the EMS Sector operate within the confinds of the roof line? Cutting into an undeployed airbag of any type is not recommened, which includes the IC. Doing so will allow pressurized gasses to come out through an open butt should there be an accidental deployment. The interal static pressure can be 3,000+ psi.
Joerg Heck has spoken about IC inflator tests conducted by the airbag industry that I am aware of and that I have spoken about on my web site. Yes it is true that unrestrained hybrid/liquid fueled inflators have been tested using rescue cutting tools.
I first starting to correspond to one of the airbag representatives over three years ago. Through my correspondence our responder concerns were herd. Which resulted at the OEMs looking into the possibility of projectiles resulting from breaching the IC inflators.
This resulted in the first of two test conducted by that airbag manufacturer. In both tests, whenever the pressure vessel was breached, any unrestrained end became a projectile. I have knowledge of three tests documenting that each time the cutting tool breached the pressure vessel projectiles resulted. Even when restrined, the forces were so great that in some evolutions projectiles resulted.
It was thought that when the hydraulic cutters breached the metal pressure vessel that it would simply cut like sheet metal and slowly vent the gasses. However for those of us that have cut hard steel, we know that the cutting tool actually compresses hard thick steel to the point that it fractures the material. This can be demonstrated the same as cutting a Nadar pin or other case harden steel. The cutting blades may dig into the metal surface slightly, causing it only to be scored. The tremendous buildup of kinetic pressure created, commponded with the rapid release of stored gasses results in a catstrophic failure of the pressure vessel with projectiles.
There are alternative methods of performing extrication techniques, such as displacing the dash. Which can be done quite succesfully without displacing the roof. On the average, I can teach a beginner to displace a dash without displacing the roof, in 8-minutes or less from the point of arrival.
While some may disagree, I only find new safety devices to be a an inconvience to the responder. Don't fall into the Responder Fear Syndrome. Ron Moore and I will be teaching several hands on programs at this years Firehouse Expo and then we both will be teaching a segment together on New Vehicle Technology, try to attend. Ron will be going over vehicle contruction and airbags and I will be covering hybrid vehicles and an introduction to fuel cell technology. Hope we see you there, and stay safe!