Firefighters learn how to save lives in hybrid-car crashes

Reporter: Gail Levy Writer: Jackie Winchester
Firefighters are training on how to safely rescue people involved in crashes in hybrid and electric vehicles. (Credit: WINK News)

It used to be only gas-powered cars on the road. Now, firefighters have to rescue people from electric and hybrid cars, too.

Teslas, Audis, Chevrolets, and everything in between are trending in the way of the future. More of us are driving electric or hybrid vehicles and using natural gas to get around.

“The future is here. I want you to drive down the street and tell me how many Teslas you see. Then go and just look at how many hybrid vehicles you see, whether they’re all-electric or fuel and electric. They’re everywhere and it is a little bit more of a hazard for us if we don’t understand how to operate with those,” said John Nichols, a training captain at  Bonita Springs Fire Control & Rescue District.

In other words, firefighters need to know how to work on these new vehicles when they respond to crashes or fires. New models of cars mean new kinds of training.

“It makes me feel a lot better, it helps me sleep at night really just to know that we’re out here training to try and make our community safer,” said Shawn Robinson, a firefighter with South Trail Fire & Rescue District.

The best way to figure it out is to know the car from inside out. Knowing whether a car is hybrid or electric is critical because rescue crews can’t just use the jaws of life on them anywhere.

A normal car, we have 12V battery systems and fuel. With these, we also have a very high voltage system that the plus is all the cables are marked in orange. They’re bright orange. It doesn’t mean that it’s any more dangerous for us to cut on but there’s more hazards to know about,” Nichols said.

The firefighters’ message to drivers: be careful, but know smarter first responders are ready if you need them.

A new solar-generated car is set to hit the highways next year, and firefighters say that will mean even more training.

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