Even under the best of circumstances, emergency personnel responding to an automobile accident don’t have easy jobs. In a matter of seconds, they need to assess the situation, minimize the danger to both victims and responders and begin the process of extrication if victims are trapped in the wreckage. This job is difficult enough in a modern, airbag equipped vehicle, but it becomes even more difficult and dangerous when the vehicle is powered by a hybrid or electric drivetrain. Cut in the wrong place, and you risk electrocution of both the first responder and the victim. Even low voltage leads can generate sparks, not what you want in an environment likely to contain leaking fuel and plenty of combustible material.
In advance of Volt sales, Chevrolet has rolled out a nationwide program to teach first responders how to safely disassemble electric cars, including the Volt. Developed in cooperation with the National Fire Prevention Association, the program’s aim is to take the mystery out of extricating a victim from a crashed Chevy Volt. The curriculum develop by Chevrolet and the NFPA will be made available to fire departments from coast to coast, although I seriously doubt Chevy will be donating a Volt to each and every department. Still, I appreciate Chevy’s efforts to make things safer for both the public and first responders, and hope that other manufacturers follow suit as electric and hybrid vehicles become an integral part of their product lines.