Two CARSTAR shops in the Kansas City area recently offered First Responder Emergency Extrication (FREE) training on the latest in vehicle technology.
CARSTAR Metcalf in Stilwell, Kan., offered training on Nov. 8, and CARSTAR Wicklunds in Liberty, Mo., offered training the following night.
More than 80 first responders from Kansas City, Shawnee, Lees Summit, Liberty, Pleasant Valley, Birmingham, Riverside, North Kansas City, Grandview, Lenexa, Falls City and Warrensburg registered for the training.
The National Auto Body Council’s FREE program is designed to keep first responders on top of the rapid changes in vehicle design. High-strength steel, airbags, advanced restraint systems and alternative-fuel vehicles are among the topics covered in the training.
The four-hour course incorporates classroom and hands-on instruction, including demonstrations of vehicle cutting techniques.
Alternative-fuel systems present different challenges when first responders arrive at the scene of an accident. Electric cars, hybrid cars and natural gas vehicles all pose dangers for first responders if the need arises to “cut” the vehicle for rescue.
The growing popularity of high-voltage hybrid and electric vehicles and the many safety concerns surrounding these vehicles makes the training a necessity for first responders.
“First responders need to know about these new alternative-fuel vehicles on the road,” said Steve Hahn, owner of CARSTAR Metcalf. “We teach the firefighters how to be safe when working around those vehicles and how to disable the systems if needed.”
Hahn said the training included displaying alternative-fuel vehicles. Olathe Toyota provided an electric car for display. The training session also covered how to deal with the multiple airbag and restraint systems appearing in vehicles.
The true strength of the program is the opportunity to practice “cutting” late-model vehicles. State Farm donated salvage cars so first responders could get a chance to practice cutting vehicles in a controlled and safe environment.
The FREE training was a partnership between the National Auto Body Council (NABC) and Holmatro Rescue Equipment. CARSTAR is a national partner with the NABC.
“Our training and experience in repairing vehicles also translates into knowledge of how to ‘cut’ these vehicles in an emergency scenario,” said JoAnn Tyler of Holmatro Rescue Equipment, who was the instructor at the events. “Holmatro knows the tools and techniques for extrication. CARSTAR body shops know the vehicles.”