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Thread: Steering Wheel

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    Forum Member DepChief03's Avatar
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    Question Steering Wheel

    Here is something that was asked recently and I thought I would throw this question out to you all and get some answers. When an air bag has not deployed in a steering wheel can you cut the steering wheel without the bag going off or as another option can you pull the steering wheel without the bag going off? I understand one of the first rules is to disconnect the battery.


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    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    Can you cut the steering wheel? Yes, but I would not try and cut the steering column. That would be bad in many ways. However, the wheel itself can be cut and "should" not have any effect on the airbag system. You can also "safely" push a steering column and pull one, "safely" as long as you know what you are doing and take as much care as possible.

    Personally, I'll move the dashboard over just the steering column. More room, just about same amount of work, less risk. But that's me.
    "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?

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    Forum Member DepChief03's Avatar
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    Bones42 I agree with you. But what this is coming from is some of the guys just had a class from a certain manufacturer of rescue tools and this instructor apparently stated that they have cut the columns numerous times without the air bag deploying, however, they have never did it with actual victims there, only during testing. Kind of gives me the "willies" to cut the column with the person right there. I agree with rolling the dash, but what if the car is on the driver's side?

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    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    Dash can be moved regardless of vehicle position. Right side up, on it's side, upside down. A lot more work involved with the latter 2, but still can be done. Theoretically, and no one would ever guarantee this, you can cut the column and it would not affect the air bags. Now, irregardless of that, during a training, cut a steering column and measure how far the column moves toward the back of the vehicle when it's cut. Imagine being trapped by a steering wheel crushing into your chest and getting pushed that much further into your chest. Sound like a good idea?
    "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?

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    FIGJAM lutan1's Avatar
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    Yes you can cut the wheel.

    during a training, cut a steering column and measure how far the column moves toward the back of the vehicle when it's cut.
    Did that in training one day and the steering wheel landed on the rear parcel shelf!
    Luke

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    Why subject yourself and the patient with the potential activation of the air bag. Dash roll, dash roll, dash roll, it will provide you with the room needed for patient removal, and reduce that chance of air bag deployment. Stay safe.

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    Question

    Correct me if I am wrong, but even if you disconnect the battery power, don't airbag systems have a capacitor that maintains charge regardless? I would agree that a dash roll is the way to go; most room possible and equal amount of work as column pull.

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    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    Yes, and capacitor drain down times vary. Recent models of cars have capacitor drain times under 2 minutes for the most part. There are/were a few that were longer than 5 minutes.
    "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?

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    MembersZone Subscriber BurnCMSFD's Avatar
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    Default Steering

    I was at a recent conference with some big guns giving there speel, and one of the things he mentioned was that he had most of the engineers of the big companies and asked them if bags would deploy if the battery was disconnected and they all said no, he did mention waiting 30 seconds to be sure.
    Now another one of the guys presenting (another class) said that they will go off and have without the battery being hooked up, but he didn't sound as convincing as the first.
    I asked the first guy if there has every been a deployment that he knows of after the battery has been disconnected and he said no.
    So dammed if you do dammed if you don't. I wish all these guys could be on the same page. Just remember 5,10,20 rule.
    Later
    burn
    Burn<br />LT/EMT/Inst />Central Mat-Su FD<br />Wasilla Alaska

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    FIGJAM lutan1's Avatar
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    Why subject yourself and the patient with the potential activation of the air bag. Dash roll, dash roll, dash roll, it will provide you with the room needed for patient removal, and reduce that chance of air bag deployment. Stay safe.
    At the risk of standing on your toes here and peeing you off- you haven't been to many accidents have you?

    There are cars out there where you can't do a dash roll due to design and engineering problems. In some cases it may only be the wheel pinning the person- I bet any amount of money that I could cut that wheel quicker than you could set up and perform a dash roll.

    Rescue is about options and the cutting of the wheel is very good option- keep an open mind when attending an MVA!
    Luke

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    Forum Member MetalMedic's Avatar
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    Lutan beat me to my reply points! So, I will just re-state that extrication is all about options and having back-up plans when one option fails. While rolling the dash is usually the best way to gain the most access, there could always be something that would prevent this. If one of your options is to cut the wheel, that may very well be the best option for that incident.

    I am not a fan of cutting the column, but I have done it on an actual extrication as a last resort. Besides the problem with the steering wheel displacing back into the patient, cutting the column is pretty hard on the hydraulic cutter and will normally end up leaving a notch in the cutting surface. The shearing action if most cutters also creates the problem that lutan mentioned with the quick release of energy once the cut occurs. I would like to try some cuts on a steering column with a Champion cutter to see how it does since it does not cut with a shearing action.

    One other concern I have for cutting a column when there is an un-deployed airbag is the fact that you will be cutting through the wiring that signals the trigger on the airbag. One can never predict what might happen when you change a vehicle from it's original shape by cutting pieces off of it. My fear would be a static discharge could occur that would "fire" the airbag. Just another reason to keep the cutting of a steering column on the back burner as long as you can when you start weighing your options.
    Richard Nester
    Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.

    "People don't care what you know... until they know that you care." - Scott Bolleter

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    I see a common theme here, that the cutters can displace a steering column back into a patients chest. I have never attempted to cut a steering column, I have had good results with dash rolls and dash lifts (prefer the dash lift due to less movement of the floor pan)as well as cutting the steering wheel. If I had to cut the steering column due, to the damage and potential for a blade to break on a hydraulic cutter I would look hard at using a sawzall to cut the column.

    As a few people have already mentioned, extrication is all about options.

    Shane
    It don't take a genius to spot a goat in a flock of sheep

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    Lutan 1, no your not peeing me off,I value your your opinion because I have read many of your post and agree with your comments, and yes I have been involved in quite a few extrications in my 22 years. Your are correct extrication is about options, and having a back up plan is apart of my size up, along with proper tool placement for option 1 and 2. I have cut collums in training, and have seen it done in the field I just prefere a dash lift or roll. I'm not a betting man, and you may be able to cut the wheel quicker than a dash roll, but it's not always about being quicker that makes it better it's playing it safe for your personnel, and the patient. From reading the other post the majority also agrees with a roll or a lift. Thanks for your thoughts. Stay safe.
    Last edited by fdsq10; 11-26-2004 at 04:37 PM.

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    Forum Member Rescue101's Avatar
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    For easy figuring,think of an air bag inflator like you would a blasting cap(initiator).Now go ask ANY blaster (dynamite guy)if you need battery power to set off the cap.I'm pretty comfortable what the response will be.Same goes for the airbag.The only "safe"airbag is the one that has been removed from the working area(not practical in most cases).We remove and re-install them as a matter of course in our repair business but I maintain a healthy respect for these devices.The chance of one going off when cutting a column is a distinct possibility if battery power is not cut due to the multitude of wires that run up a modern day column.Not a chance I care to take if there is another way.Cutting the wheel or the spokes should not present a problem.Just my two bits,T.C.
    Last edited by Rescue101; 11-26-2004 at 12:45 PM.

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    Just a thought here, has anyone thought of popping the seat if the back isn't damaged and sliding the victim backwards?

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    Forum Member MetalMedic's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Dominique
    Just a thought here, has anyone thought of popping the seat if the back isn't damaged and sliding the victim backwards?
    That wasn't an option when we had to cut the steering column. The victim was in a van that was LOADED with building supplies. When the collision occurred, this material all moved forward against the back of his seat which was what trapped him. The front of the van was flat against a flatbed truck and the building material was on his back.

    Weighing the options of a) unloading the van; b) moving the flatbed so that we could roll the dash up and away or: c) cut the column and remove the victim. Since the victim was already in cardiac arrest secondary to trauma, we cut the column to make a rapid roll out in hopes that the paramedics might be able to do some good. Unfortunetly the victim expired, but I am confident the outcome would have been the same if we had chosen option "a" or "b".
    Last edited by MetalMedic; 12-01-2004 at 11:48 AM.
    Richard Nester
    Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.

    "People don't care what you know... until they know that you care." - Scott Bolleter

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    I'd have to agree now that I got a good idea of the circumstances. You did all you could given the choices. Sometimes that's all we can do.

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    Lutan,

    Could you please enlighten us as to which cars you cannot perform a dash lift or roll?

    I haven't come across one that couldn't be done.

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    Forum Member Rescue101's Avatar
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    SFD,probably isn't ANY that you can't roll but there is a few that have a reinforcement near the console area that make it a miserable job.There was a recent article on this,I'm thinking done by our own Ron Moore but I'll have to backtrack a bit and see if I can find it.Richard,I hate those kind of jobs;I'd have done the same thing under the circumstances.But it still leaves a void and a big case of the "what ifs".We're better prepared than most thanks to our bouncing ideas back and forth here.I can't speak for the rest of you,but the information we've put forth here has paid big dividends on the road in terms of solutions and saving time. T.C.

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    101,

    I did see Ron's article. I think it was about 2 weeks ago.

    Though I haven't had a chance to roll one of these new reinforced dash boards, it looks like with good technique and proper relief cuts it might help us open up the whole front compartment. From the pics that Ron had in the article I think these reinforcements will help.

    Ron,

    If you have more pics of these reinforcements could you post them?
    Also, could you let us know which make and model of vehicle we can find this?

    Be Safe,

    Mike

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