The National Auto Body Council (NABC) announced that roughly 60 first responders representing 20 fire stations from Virginia gathered on Sept. 20 at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Vehicle Research Center in Ruckersville, Va., for a demonstration of the latest techniques in emergency vehicle extrication. The demonstration was put on by NABC’s First Responder Emergency Extrication (FREE) program and its partners.
Participating fire stations included:
- Albemarle County Charlottesville Fire City Of Staunton East Rivanna
- Fairfax City Fire Goochland Fire Leesburg Fire Madison Fire
- Madison Rescue Martinsburg Fire Mineral Fire Powhatan Fire
- Prince William Fire Purcellville Fire Round Hill Fire Sperryville Fire
- Spotsylvania Fire Spotsylvania VFD Warrenton Fire Western Rescue
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 make 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 to first responders if the need arises to cut or pry the vehicle for rescue.
“This is a tremendous event for the continued education of our first responders, with hands-on experience using the latest technology to address the most advanced vehicle designs,” said Bill Garoutte, president and CEO of the NABC. “Not only is this a learning event for them, it’s a great way to gather insight into how our first responders handle emergency situations, what their needs are and how the industry overall can support them in the future.”
State Farm provided the vehicles, and Hurst Jaws of Life supplied the classroom education and extrication demonstration. The meet-and-greet continental breakfast was provided by Panera Bread, and lunch was served by Mission BBQ, Maddio’s Pizza and Fire House Subs. Beverages throughout the event were provided Hertz Corporation.
“It is amazing to be here today, and we’re happy to donate seven newer-model salvage vehicles to the NABC FREE event,” said Peter Walter, State Farm agent from Culpepper, Va. “Part of the culture of State Farm is being a good neighbor, and we want to make sure we are there to respond to anyone in need.”
NABC partner Caliber Collision was on hand for the event to provide perspective from the collision repair facility point of view.
“It was great to be part of this event,” said Steve Welch, vice president of operations for Caliber Collision’s Virginia region. “Caliber’s purpose is to restore the rhythm of lives. I think that’s what we did for our first responders, our customers, clients and partners. We were glad to be part of this.”