PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (AP) -- The growing popularity of hybrid vehicles poses a new danger for rescuers at accident scenes: a network of high-voltage circuitry that may require some precise cutting to save a trapped victim.
"You don't want to go crushing anything with hydraulic tools," said Samuel Caroluzzi, an assistant chief with the Norristown Fire Department outside Philadelphia. "It's enough to kill you from what they're telling us in training."
Hybrids draw power from two sources, typically a gas or diesel engine combined with an electric motor. The battery powering the electric motor carries as much as 500 volts, more than 40 times the strength of a standard battery.
That worries those who must cut into cars to rescue people inside.
"If you can't shut it down, you don't know where the high voltage is," said David Dalrymple, an emergency medical technician in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Manufacturers have a list of safety checks that the car's computer must go through for the electrical system to run. They've published guides showing the location of the electric components; on the Toyota Prius and other hybrids, the high-power cables are colored bright orange to catch the eye of a rescue worker or a mechanic.
But there are concerns over what happens if something goes wrong and the battery, ignition and other points are inaccessible.
"It's the 'what-if' that worries me," said David Castiaux, an instructor for Mid-Del Technology Center in Del City, Oklahoma, who teaches rescue workers about hybrids.
Chris Peterson, a service training instructor for Toyota, said the Prius' electric system should shut down if anything goes wrong. "There should not be high voltage in those cables, but I'm not going to stand up and say there isn't," he said.
Rescuers are taught to disconnect the battery and turn off the key immediately before cutting into a car, but that's not always possible.
Concerns about hybrids are increasing in large part because of their growing popularity. Sales have risen at an average annual rate of 88.6 percent since 2000 and recent figures show the number of Americans driving them jumped more than 25 percent from 2002 to 2003.
The Honda Insight and the Toyota Prius are common now and more are on the way: hybrid versions of the Ford Escape, Honda Accord and Lexus SUV this year, and a Toyota Highlander in 2005.
The Alachua County Fire Rescue in Gainesville, Florida, even has two hybrids of its own. Although its crews haven't had to deal with a hybrid crash, they've been getting versed on what to do when it happens, said Cliff Chapman, assistant chief.
They know not to cut into a hybrid's doors -- that's where many of the cables are -- and to peel off the roof instead. They also now operate under the assumption that a car is energized, wearing rubber gloves and boots.
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Thread: Hybrid Cars
05-04-2004, 11:12 AM #1
05-04-2004, 12:17 PM #2They know not to cut into a hybrid's doors - that's where many of the cables are"This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?
05-04-2004, 01:02 PM #3
The answer is obvious, the author is uneducated in what he wrote, and if Dave gave him info, he/she only listened to part of it.A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.
05-12-2004, 11:55 PM #4
- Join Date
- Dec 2000
One of our firefighters approached a local Honda dealer about information on their hybrids. They not only gave her a 13 page Emergency Response Guide but also let us bring one of the new Civics to the station on drill night to check out all the high voltage cables, etc.
I found that the most suprising thing about it was that there is no "starter crank" sound, you turn the key and it's running (and very quietly too).
An ERG for both the new Civic and the older Insight are available in PDF format on their website:
Last edited by WTFD10; 05-12-2004 at 11:58 PM.FTM-PTB-DTRT
05-18-2004, 12:31 PM #5
GM and Chevy are supposed to have hybird vehicles on the road this year with some of the following features:
Electronic-Hydraulic Power Assist
Auto Engine Start-Stop
42 volt battery pack
2.4 Kilowatt portable generator
120 VAC oultets (1 in the cab and 1 in the bed)
Here is a link to a brief online training blurb.
Look in the lower right hand side of the window for the link to:
Hybrid Truck Emergency Personnel Training
P.S. The above link is very slow but it does come up
Last edited by resqtech70; 05-18-2004 at 12:34 PM.Brian S. Jazudek
Moon Run VFC
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