NABC FREE Program: Virginia First Responders
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Virginia First Responders Learn New Rescue Skills through NABC FREE Program

More than 50 first responders from dozens of fire departments and rescue squads across Virginia and West Virginia gathered Sept. 26 for a hands-on demonstration of the latest techniques in emergency extrication.

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More than 50 first responders from dozens of fire departments and rescue squads across Virginia and West Virginia gathered Sept. 26 for a hands-on demonstration of the latest techniques in emergency 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 and partners Hurst Jaws of Life, Interstate Rescue, State Farm and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

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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, 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 and rescue units stay abreast of the rapid changes in vehicle design. High-strength steel, airbags, advanced restraint systems, on-board 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.

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“We’re honored to have been at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety with these tremendous partners to provide this NABC F.R.E.E. education program,” said Bill Garoutte, president and CEO of the NABC. “Knowing that these dedicated men and women who serve as first responders in this region are committed to this level of advanced training provides confidence that our friends and families on the roads here are in the most qualified hands.”

Hurst Jaws of Life and Interstate Rescue provided the tools and education, and State Farm and M&M Auto Parts donated the vehicles. Additional partners included Insurance Auto Auctions, Colonial Auto Center, Mission BBQ and Panera Bread.

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“State Farm is pleased to donate five newer model salvaged vehicles for the First Responder Emergency Extrication training,” said Kate Beadle, spokesperson for State Farm. “First Responders help their neighbors recover from auto accidents. We want to make sure they remain safe during extrications.”

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