New technology translates into new training
Wed, 15 Aug 2012 02:55:00 GMT —
The newer technology that makes you safer on the roads or allows you to drive cheaper can also cause headaches for first responders. Firefighters have changed with the times to keep up with those improvements too.
Firefighters and/or emergency personnel are dispatched on just about every accident, and when they arrive, besides the victims, they've also got to know what to look for with the cars.
Newer hybrids with batteries like a Prius or Volt have 50 volt batteries strong enough to propel the car and the engine runs silent, so firefighters have to be aware when they approach the scene, according to captain Wes Hall with the Amarillo Fire Department.
"We stabilize the vehicle and by doing that we chock the wheels and it's not going to go anywhere. The guys know what they're supposed to look for; that key, pull it and get rid of it. We also, sometimes, if it's too damaged, we'll disconnect the 12 volt battery and we stay away from the high voltage part of it. It's not made for us to be cutting."
Other problems they face are the number and placement of air bags that might not have deployed or the higher tensile strength of today's steel used in cars that makes older extraction equipment obsolete.
"As cars evolve and get stronger and technology improves so do the extraction tools we purchase. So cars get stronger and use stronger steel, the manufacturers of extraction tools are getting stronger and so we have tools now that go right through it most of the time," said Hall.
Captain Hall said firefighters train yearly to make sure they're up to date on equipment for them and cars on the road, which should increase your odds of a safe extraction, as well.
"We have a couple salvage yards who donate a couple cars each year and our guys go out and cut 'em--tools on our trucks to cut 'em up and we stay on top of technology that's coming out."
Captain Hall also said that unlike most cities in texas, all 15 of Amarillo's fire trucks carry extraction equipment so you don't have to wait on a rescue unit to arrive after an accident.