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NABC providing first responder training on newer model and EV vehicles

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Nearly 40 emergency first responders recently received newer model vehicle extraction training from the National Auto Body Council, and the group plans to continue offering the training on electric vehicles (EVs) as often as possible.

Ten first responders from the Niagara Falls Fire Department and 25 from the Bolingbrook Fire Department in Illinois were the latest to participate in the classroom and hands-on training.

GEICO and Allstate donated the vehicles used. Genesis Rescue Systems provided training at the sites of Auto Collision & Glass and Crash Champions.

NABC’s First Responder Emergency Education (F.R.E.E.) program provides education and live demonstrations on vehicles made with high-strength steel, advanced air bags, and restraint systems, onboard technology, and safety around alternative fuel vehicles. Since it was founded, more than 5,500 first responders have participated.

F.R.E.E. Program Manager George Avery told Repairer Driven News that NABC started the program after a fire chief shared some alarming news about 10 years ago during a Collision Industry Conference (CIC) meeting about rescues from crashed newer model vehicles.

He said, “‘If you get in a serious accident on the way home, I may not be able to get you out because we have not had a chance to practice on these hard steels,'” Avery recalled. “The place went silent… Within 60 days we had a program so it started with a fire department saying to us, ‘You work on these late-model cars every day, we need some help.'”

Today’s vehicles are equipped with numerous air bags, advanced technology, and innovative safety systems that keep drivers safer in case of an accident. The same safety advantages make it harder for first responders to rescue drivers and passengers; add to that the potential challenge presented by electric and hybrid engines, and first responders need a whole new arsenal of rescue tools and procedures, NABC said in a news release.

“This was a great opportunity. Staging later model cars to duplicate real-life situations is valuable,” a Niagara Falls first responder said.

Auto Collison & Glass manager Joe Lavey said, “We look forward to providing first responders the opportunity to cut newer cars each year.”

CRASH Champions in Bolingbrook hosted first responders from the Bolingbrook Fire Department.

Any NABC member can work with the council to host an event at the request of those interested in the taking the training. They are four to five hours long, including about an hour of classroom training. The rest of the time is spent learning the extraction methods with Jaws of Life or the Genesis rescue system, typically on 2017 or newer model vehicles, under the guidance of the instructor. Up to 25 first responders can participate at a time.

“Firefighters practice all the time; they train all the time,” Avery said. “What they can’t get their hands on are the later model cars with the hard steals and that’s what they need to practice.”

NABC has also recently started training on total loss EVs, when available, he added. They don’t cut into the vehicles but can pull a trim panel back, for example, to look at what they would be working with, Avery said.


Featured image: Bolingbrook Fire Department first responders practice vehicle extraction methods on a newer model vehicle on May 11, 2024. (Provided by NABC)

Niagara Falls Fire Department first responders practice vehicle extraction methods on a newer model vehicle in New York on May 4, 2024. (Provided by NABC)

NABC F.R.E.E. event at Advanced Remarketing Services (ARS) in Rhode Island on March 23, 2024. (Provided by NABC)

Vehicles used during F.R.E.E. training taken by Niagara Falls Fire Department first responders on May 4, 2024. (Provided by NABC)

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