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First Responders Train for Electric Vehicle Accidents

During his State of the Union address Tuesday night, the President discussed his commitment to electric vehicles and stated his goal is to have 1 million of the vehicles on the road by 2015. While electric vehicles do not harm the environment with emissions, they are definitely not immune to car accidents.

Often, emergency personnel responding to a serious car accident need to dismantle a vehicle to rescue an accident victim. Because electric vehicles differ significantly in construction from traditional internal combustion vehicles, a car accident involving an electric vehicle poses unique challenges to first responders.

With those concerns in mind, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) established a training tour for first responders on how to work with electric vehicles that have been involved in an accident. Approximately 2,000 emergency service trainers and leaders have participated in the electric vehicle training so far. The training tour made stops in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Austin, Washington D.C., New York and Detroit.

The training focuses on topics that are unique to electric vehicles, including procedures to shut off the power, details on lithium ion batteries, and locations of high-strength steel and cut points for getting to injured and trapped passengers. Chevrolet has participated in training the first responders, and has provided a Chevy Volt for hands-on training.

With greater emphasis on alternate fuel sources for our vehicles, it appears inevitable that there will be more electric vehicles on the road in the future. The NFPA's training is an important step towards preparing the brave men and women who serve as our first responders to be as comfortable and as familiar with electric vehicles as they are with the traditional vehicles on the road today.

Source: National Fire Protection Association, "Chevrolet, OnStar and NFPA host Electric Vehicle Safety Training for Detroit's First Responders," 12/2010

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