The National Auto Body Council (NABC) has announced that rescue tool manufacturers Hurst Jaws of Life and Genesis Rescue Systems will now be providing instructors for NABC member-hosted First Responder Emergency Extrication (F.R.E.E.) program events nationwide.
NABC’s F.R.E.E. program provides first responders with hands-on practice, specifically on late-model vehicles equipped with today’s new car technology, including lighter weight, high-strength steels, sophisticated electronics and multiple airbag systems.
With the resources of Hurst Jaws of life and Genesis Rescue Systems, two of the largest manufacturers of rescue equipment in the U.S., NABC can now offer more opportunities for members to host F.R.E.E. events and provide valuable extrication practice opportunities to hundreds more first responders nationwide.
To support the increased demand for F.R.E.E. events, State Farm has committed to providing the majority of the salvage vehicles for the program with additional support from Allstate. Each event typically requires three to four vehicles for approximately 40 participating first responders to practice their cutting and extricating skills.
“Auto extrication presents increasingly complex rescue challenges to first responders,” said Mike Canon, director of rescue sales for Hurst Jaws of Life. “These new challenges include stronger and stronger ultra-high-strength steels, more pressurized airbag cylinders, and more hybrid and electric vehicles on the road. It’s critical that first responders train on new-model vehicles that are not always easy to acquire. NABC and the F.R.E.E. program present an excellent opportunity to do just that.”
Shelby Howell, administrator of training, Genesis Rescue Systems, added, “Genesis Rescue Systems focuses on offering and participating in programs that help First Responders stay safe and save lives. With a strong focus on research and development along with engineering, we achieve a goal of producing an entire line of equipment that is ergonomically friendly, quick to deploy and easy for rescuers to do their job. Assisting the National Auto Body Council with their First Responder Emergency Extrication (F.R.E.E.) Program is a good fit for Genesis and a win-win for all stakeholders and rescue personnel, but even more important, crash victims.”
NABC’s F.R.E.E. program is offered to first responders at no charge as a community service and hosted at NABC repair shop facilities. The typical F.R.E.E. event consists of one-hour class instruction by rescue equipment experts, followed by three hours of hands-on extricating practice using the latest equipment on late-model vehicles staged to simulate crash scenes.
“Since the inception of NABC’s F.R.E.E. program, we have had high demand from our member shops eager to support their local first responder communities,” said George Avery, F.R.E.E. program manager. “The hands-on practice is invaluable to help prevent further injury to the victim or to the first responders themselves. 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. We are thrilled to have Hurst and Genesis come on board to expand the reach of the F.R.E.E. program.”