More than 100 first responders from across the Mid-Atlantic region gathered April 26-28 in Forest, Va., for information on accident scene first responder safety awareness and demonstrations of the latest techniques in emergency vehicle extrication, preparing them to provide the best response for car accident victims in the region, all thanks to the National Auto Body Council (NABC) First Responder Emergency Extrication (FREE) program, Interstate Rescue, Forest Volunteer Fire Department and HURST Jaws of Life.
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, pry and extricate can make the difference in saving precious minutes and lives as well as the safety of the first responders.
Keeping first responders up to date on the latest new technology in vehicles is a challenge for every local fire department. The NABC FREE program helps first responders stay abreast of the rapid changes in vehicle design. High-strength steel, airbags, advanced restraint systems, onboard technology and safety around alternative fuel vehicles are all covered in the program. 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 the need arises to cut or pry the vehicle for rescue.
Classroom information to improve first responder safety at the accident scene was provided by Jack Sullivan CSP, CFPS from the Emergency Responder Safety Institute. Allstate, Esurance, GEICO and Nationwide provided later model vehicles and classroom information, and Interstate Rescue/HURST Jaws of Life supplied the extrication demonstrations.