Pa. Town Rescue Workers Train for Hybrid Car Accidents

The Uniontown, Pennsylvania volunteer fire department has taught its workers to safely respond to hybrid car accidents in hopes of paving the way for similar programs nationwide.

With more than 1 million gas-electric powered vehicles cruising U.S. roads, instructors from West Virginia University said they hope the course held over the weekend will signal to other rescue teams that they should learn how to deal safely with hybrid car collisions.

The instructors taught rescue teams in Uniontown, about 40 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, how to disconnect the high-voltage systems that operate the vehicles and to safely extract passengers, especially those who may have been injured.

Scott Martin, program instructor from the university’s National Alternative Fuels Consortium, said the course is meant to dispel false beliefs people may have about hybrid cars. It is also designed to teach about hazards associated with a vehicle that can carry a charge of up to 650 volts.

People have the false impression that approaching a hybrid vehicle immersed in water will result in a shock, Martin said.

The manufacturers have put in place safety systems that take over in a collision, “but in a severe accident you may have to know how to disable them,” Martin said.

The course teaches rescue teams where the disconnect systems are located and how to disable a hybrid battery with water and boric acid. The instructors also provide rescue teams with safety information from each manufacturer.

“We created the course to train first responders how to do this efficiently so they’re not sitting there trying to figure out whether it is safe,” Martin said.


Information from: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,