More Hybrid Vehicles Mean More Training for Emergency Workers

By: Toni Harrison
By: Toni Harrison

The cost of gas these days has some new car buyers lining up for cars with hybrid technology. Most hybrids deliver more than 45 miles to the gallon, but their popularity has created an unexpected challenge for emergency response teams.

"There's several things that you have to worry about with hybrid vehicles, of course the power source, you're dealing with anywhere from 144 volts to 600 volts," said Jeremy Riley of the Bryan Fire Department.

Officials say about 60 volts of electricity is fatal; most hybrids carry more than 250 volts.

When using rescue equipment in an accident, like the jaws of life, cutting a hybrid in the wrong place could be fatal.

"They could be killed or at the very least hurt real bad," said Riley.

Emergency workers are trying to keep up with the technological advances in new vehicles and hybrid training sessions are popping up everywhere, but nothing beats hands-on experience.

"The best training sometimes is actually being out in the field cutting on these vehicles and that's a bad place to have to learn about it," said Riley.

The fire academy at Texas A&M's Brayton Fire Training School is now offering lessons on how to properly cut hybrid vehicles.

"We had to change the procedure that we had when we train people to deal with vehicle extraction, so it adds another step, another precaution," said Jason Cook of Texas Engineering Extension Service.

Some local firefighters have already attended hybrid training. With the growing popularity of these gas friendly vehicles, that number is only going to increase, because as more hybrids hit the road, more accidents involving hybrids are sure to follow.


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