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NABC FREE Program Teaches Ohio First Responders New Skills

First responders in Columbus, Ohio-area communities learned new rescue skills recently at Crash Champions Collision Repair in Hilliard, thanks to the National Auto Body Council’s (NABC) First Responder Emergency Extrication (F.R.E.E.) program.

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The NABC F.R.E.E. program keeps first responders 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.

Crash Champions hosted the event, while Allstate donated the vehicles for the program and Genesis Rescue Systems provided the equipment and instructors.

“Crash Champions is proud to partner with the NABC and Allstate Insurance to provide this invaluable training experience to first responders throughout the Columbus, Ohio area,” said Natalie Zajc, vice president of marketing at Crash Champions. “In an accident, minutes can save lives. The Crash Champions organization is honored to provide firefighters this hands-on training to learn proper extrication techniques on today’s vehicles. During these times, this was just a small way that we can give back to those that give so much for our safety every day.”

The NABC F.R.E.E. program provides advanced education and guidance to help first responders practice cutting techniques on advanced vehicles, addressing high-strength steel and composite materials, multiple airbags, onboard technology and changing vehicle design.

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” the vehicle for rescue.

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