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New car designs make emergency rescue more difficult

Modern-day cars might be much more comfortable, more efficient and easier to drive, but they also make life more difficult for emergency services trying to pry injured victims from horrific car wrecks.

Hybrids may save the environment, but they may put your life at risk.
Hybrids may save the environment, but they may put your life at risk.

A video released by the Rio Hondo Fire Academy in Santa Fe Springs, California, highlights the increased challenges associated with cutting through newer cars to extract a victim involved in a road accident.

Greg Rudiger, instructor, explained to a group of first-responders that car manufacturers are “designing cars for consumers, not for rescuers.”

Firefighters and other first-response teams now have to face increased challenges such as stronger steels to cut through and the ever-present danger of high-voltage cables in hybrids and electric cars.

Rescuers have to exercise far more caution in emergency situations, which makes it harder to extract victims and get them to hospital within the sixty minute time-frame where a patient has the greatest chance of survival.

In an attempt to improve safety, manufacturers are reportedly working with fire departments in the US to teach new techniques for recent vehicles with the use of in-person consultation or with diagrams and written instructions.

Car manufacturer Kia appreciates the challenges rescuers face and is going as far as to donate vehicles from its range to fire departments so fire crews can work on newer cars instead of dated vehicles.

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) is working on improving the situation by introducing standardised labels displayed on the inside and out that tell first-responders what sort of hybrid vehicle they are dealing with as each type – whether plug-in hybrid, hybrid or hydrogen, for instance – requires a different approach and it’s not always easy to tell the systems apart.

A standardised reference guide is also being considered.

Other challenges first responders face include more airbags, and in places you wouldn’t expect, and keyless ignitions that make it hard to know whether an engine is on or off.
Combined with the already present dangers such as a full tank of fuel exploding and it’s clear firefighters face an even greater challenge rescuing us when we zig instead of zag.

Source: USA Today
Image: Daily News


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