1. #1
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    Default Floor pan removal

    Yesterday we got sent to a two vehicle head on collision on a state highway. A newer Ford vs. an older (early 90's) S-10. The S-10 lost. The cab of the S-10 was almost completely separated from the chassis and only connected by a twisted shred of the right front fender. The truck box was also torn from the chassis. The passenger compartment was on its roof with the driver still pinned in between the seat, dash, and steering column. He did not survive the crash.

    While waiting for the coroner, the two departments that responded had plenty of time to figure out how to get the driver out. Several suggestions were made, one included tipping the cab upright and removing the roof and doing a modified dash roll. Not saying this wouldn't have worked, but I didn't think there was enough structure left of the cab to push against to roll the dash. This would also have placed the deceased in the unnerving position of sitting upright and "looking" at us while we worked around him. Several other suggestions were made but ruled out.

    I opted to remove the floor pan along with the seat and then remove the body. I chose this way because we had never attempted anything like this before and we all wanted to see how it would work. We used two reciprocating saws to cut from the rear window down to the bottom of the cab corners, across the floor pan and then meeting at the center hump. We had a few minor difficulties along the way (wiring, center seat belt anchor, debris, etc...) but worked them out. We lifted the seat and the rear wall of the cab off the body and this allowed plenty of access. Granted, we did not have the frame in the way to do this which made it easier.

    To make a long story longer, I was bothered by the fact that it took quite a long time (30-40 mins)which I'm sure could be bettered with practice. My question is, has anyone else had to remove the floor/seats to access the patient? How did you deal with the frame and chassis components? Is this even something that should be practiced or are there better ways to do this? We've practiced going in through the top of a vehicle when they are on their side but hadn't even given much thought too this approach until yesterday. Is there any information available on the web or in print regarding removing the floor pan? If this is something we should start to include in our training, I'd like to find out more about it. Thanks for the help!

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    I've performed both an 'inverted floorboard flip' and removing the rear cab wall. Both work relatively well.

    Removing the rear cab wall should be fairly easy and quick, being cognizant of hazrds. Cutters and recip saws are the best tools to use. Bench seats produce more of a problem however. Get a few trucks and try the evolution again.

    The inverted floorboard flip involves cutiing the frame rail and then flipping a section of floorpan upward with the seat still attached. This may not have worked well in your circumstance. I've used this method quite frequently with good success.

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    As strange as it may be,we have performed a similar rescue on a identical vehicle,difference being ours hit a tree cab roof first and wrapped around trapping the driver.Extrication was also similar,cut the frame,remove the rear cab corner and part of the floor.Progress was slow due to the way the patient was intertwined into the floor pedals.Extrication was successful with a fully recovered patient walking around today.Time was also similar.Unless you do floor tunneling a lot,it will take a little more time to go that route.I have three different lenght blades for our Recips that vary from 6" to 11" which can be a help for floors and corners.Biggest obstacle I encounter in using this method is you are working "blind",until you have a peliminary "peephole"you have no idea exactly the position of your patient.A general idea yes,but until you access the floor,you can't see where the lower extremities are.You may also find a quality air chisel useful in the circumstances.Noisy but effective.T.C.

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    I am not referencing the specific incident that started this post, but the text below is what I put in Chapter 8 of my book on performing a floorboard opening evolution. Please feel free to use this excerpted text and the training objectives presented here in your local training program.

    It is a highly recommended task to assign to a crew during training so that in the event they encounter a situation where opening a floorboard is considered, the "experience factor" will win out over never having done it before.

    Opening the Floorboards
    Real-world situations can present rescue personnel with the need to open or remove portions of the floor of the vehicle. This undercarriage opening may be necessary to assist in removing portions of the vehicle that are trapping the patients, provide access to the patients inside the vehicle, or to provide an extrication pathway for patient removal from the passenger compartment of the vehicle.

    In a Long Island, New York, incident the driver of a station wagon was trapped deep within the wreckage. The vehicle, found on its driver side, had slammed roof first into a power pole, severing the pole in several places and crushing the roof down into the passenger compartment. During the rescue process, the undercarriage area was opened piece by piece and portions of the floor, driveshaft, front seat, and the seat-mounting tracks were removed. Eventually there was sufficient space to permit extrication of the patient from the vehicle. The work of opening the undercarriage was largely responsible for this safe and efficient patient extrication. Several weeks later the driver, on crutches, visited the local fire station to say thanks for a job well done.

    When confronted with an entrapment situation at a vehicle accident scene using vehicle rescue equipment as necessary, the rescuer, working as a member of a three-person team, should:

    Recognize that the vehicle's floor and undercarriage structure hinders safe and efficient patient care and extrication.

    Determine what portions of the undercarriage should be moved or removed.

    Determine the presence of any safety problems that exist or may arise during the fulfillment of the undercarriage evolution.

    Determine the most appropriate vehicle rescue tools, equipment, and techniques necessary for accomplishing the desired undercarriage evolution.

    Safely and efficiently perform the desired floorboard evolution in 5 minutes or less.


    The metal undercarriage of a vehicle is generally a slightly thicker metal than the side or roof body panels. Tools and techniques that effectively cut body sheetmetal also function well to cut through the flooring. Before the floorpan can be opened, any components that obstruct the floor opening evolution must be removed. If there is a metal driveshaft, it is hollow and can be removed by cutting and pulling it out of the transmission. Electrical wiring and the steel cable of the emergency brake system can be cut or disconnected. Fuel lines may need to be disconnected and crimped or plugged to prevent leakage.

    The initial floorboard opening should concentrate on single-thickness metal areas where no interior obstructions are anticipated. The best floorboard area to open is where the rear seat occupants would place their feet. Cutting the floor directly under a front or rear seat should be avoided because the seats hinder the completion of the task. As the floor opening progresses, the metal can be either completely removed or cut on three sides and folded outward. Once the opening of the metal is completed, the vehicle's carpeting and underlayment must be opened. This cloth or rug material can be cut with a sharp knife or saw. Once the opening is finished, sharps protection must cover all exposed sharp metal edges.


    Ron Moore
    University of Extrication
    <Rmoore@firehouse.com>

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    As you view this image, you are standing on the roof side of a vehicle on it's edge. The roof has been peeled down. If you look behind the backs of the front seats, you can see the initial floorboard opening made by a team working from the undercarriage side. A firefighter is visible through this hole in the floor.

    The teaching point here is that the weakest area of a vehicle's floorpan is that area where a rear seat occupant would normally place their feet. At a crash scene, this area may be the location where initial poke hole openings are made by the rescue team.
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    The teaching point on this image is to note what has already been removed prior to any floorboard opening being made. The drive shaft of a rear-wheel drive vehicle is gone. The exhaust system is gone. Wiring, tubing, fuel and brake lines, etc have all been removed. In addition, it is evident that strut-type stabilization measures are in place as the team works to breach the floorboard. These are all necessary steps that should be anticipated at any floorboard opening evolution.

    Ron Moore
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    Ron Moore, Forum Moderator
    www.universityofextrication.com

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    Interesting lesson Ron,but your crew is working on a FRAMELESS vehicle either by prep or design.The vehicle we're discussing would have substantial frame members in the area your team is cutting in.In my opinion,on a FRAMED vehicle,substantial floor/rear cab entry in five minutes is a bit unrealistic,unless you have performed the evolution numerous times.Your points on struts and tools are well taken,as no hope of a successful operation can occur unless the vehicle is properly secured.My normal reaction to an incident that required this approach would to order a "heavy"box on the assignment as you will tend to wear your crews out quicker with the extra effort that results from this kind of operation.In many instances you can cut the back of the cab at the top of the window line,down both sides and kind of "peel"the rear of the structure away(particularly pickups).A factor in this would be whether or not the pickup bed is still attatched to the frame(ours wasn't).Also a factor that needs to be considered is the gvw of the vehicle.As the gvw goes up any actions involving the frame members will become increasingly difficult.T.C.

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    Thanks for the input. I may use the info from Mr. Moore in an upcoming extrication class.

    As I said in the opening post, the pickup cab had separated from the frame and did not offer any of the obstructions mentioned (wiring, frame, fuel lines, driveshaft,...). This was a new one for me and has since opened another line of thought for extrications. Replaying some other extrications, going through the floor pan like the one outlined in Mr. Moore's posts could have been easier had we thought of it and trained on it prior to the incident. Thanks again!

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    Took a class in Sept. '02 that taught this procedure. We practiced on a 2 door hatchback, with the understanding that this could be completed on any car needed. The scenario was that the roof was crushed down into the passenger compartment, with the car on it's top, drivers side is pinned up against the wall and your only access is through the passengers side door, with the patient being the driver, pinned under the steering wheel. Taking that into consideration, you wouldnt have enough room for removal of the victim by just popping the door in this situation. For our lesson we had to pop the door, keeping in mind that the car might have a tendency to collapse by removing what was seen as a structural support, so we had to stabilize for that. With the door removed, we took out the floor plan in 2 different manners. The first was with a sawz-all, starting at the front of the B post, cutting back to the transmission hump. The 2nd involved using cutters to cut back to the transmission hump. Our instructor made note that before this, any obstructions, transmission, gas lines, brake lines, exhaust, would have to be removed prior to, or in the process of removing the floor pan. Once the floor pan was cut back, a couple of relief cuts inward, meaning at the end of the cuts, closest to the transmission hump, cut from the front to the back in the front, and the back to the front in the back, and with a little prying, you can flip the floor pan up, with the seat still attached, making a mirror image. So in other words, your passenger seat is sitting outside, on top of the drivers seat. Make sense? Any questions? Bueller, Bueller, Bueller?

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