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Illinois Body Shop Hosts NABC FREE Event

Crash Champions Collision Repair of Crestwood, Ill., recently hosted a National Auto Body Council (NABC) First Responder Emergency Extraction (F.R.E.E.) event where local first responders learned about high-strength steel, airbags, advanced restraint systems, onboard technology and safety around alternative fuel vehicles.

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In crashes where minutes can spell the difference between life and death, first responders to the accident scene need up-to-date information so they can act quickly and safely. Knowing specifically where and how to efficiently cut and extricate can make the difference in saving precious minutes and lives as well as the safety of the first responders.

The vehicles at the event were donated by Allstate, and the educational program and extrication demonstration was led by Genesis Rescue Systems. The hybrid/electric vehicle was provided by Zeigler Infiniti of Orland Park.

“With the complexity of today’s cars, advanced safety systems and hybrid/electric vehicles, first responders face a challenge when they get to an accident scene of knowing how to safety extricate the passengers from that specific make and model,” said Natalie Zajc, vice president of marketing for Crash Champions. “Working with our partners at Allstate to provide late-model vehicles and Genesis to lead the training, we’re able to provide them an opportunity to practice their cutting and extrication techniques. As a proud member of the Chicago community, we want to do our part to help give back and make our streets safer.”

The growing popularity of high-voltage hybrid and electric vehicles and the many safety concerns surrounding these vehicles makes this program a necessity. Alternative fuel systems present different challenges when first responders arrive at the scene of an accident. Electric cars, hybrid cars and natural gas vehicles have fuel systems that pose dangers for first responders if need arises to “cut” the vehicle for rescue.


“Education programs like the NABC F.R.E.E. program and the support of Crash Champions, Allstate and Genesis are critical to our ability to serve Chicago’s drivers,” said Tom Styczynski, chief of the Alsip Fire Department. “We don’t get to train on these types of vehicles very often. Knowing where to cut a vehicle, avoiding activating an airbag and working around high-voltage electrical systems and batteries all save time in rescuing the accident victims. This gets the passengers to medical attention more quickly and helps protect our rescue crews on the job.”

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