Held Aug. 16 at the American Lung Association in Minnesota in St. Paul, the class focused on hybrid and electric vehicles. The instructor was Paul Pate, a nationally recognized expert in electric vehicle safety training and a contract instructor with the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC). TC4 contracted with the NAFTC to use the CCLP First Responder Safety Training curriculum.
The day offered two separate sessions with a mix of classroom and hands-on training covering a variety of vehicles. Attendees included staff from the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and firefighters from firehouses around the Twin Cities area including Minneapolis, Inver Grove Heights, Lakeville and Savage. The training was held not far from the Interstate 35W bridge, which collapsed into the Mississippi River during rush hour traffic in August 2007. The incident serves as a grim reminder why first responder training is so important.
“First responder safety training for hybrids and electric vehicles, as well as other alternative fuel vehicles, is important because it demonstrates a concern for the people we all count on in an emergency. Each alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicle requires a different plan of action when faced with an emergency situation,” said Lisa Thurstin, coordinator of the TC4 partnership. “It also helps to overcome one possible obstacle on the path to cleaner and more efficient vehicles and may have the added benefit of making city and county governments more open to adding these vehicles to their fleets.”
Evaluations completed after both trainings touted 100 percent satisfaction. Thurstin reported that participant feedback was very positive and included comments that the wide variety of vehicles present was invaluable. The small training sessions allowed each attendee to experience hands-on opportunities an important aspect, as some had never driven or powered up/down a hybrid or electric vehicle. Other comments included praise for the reference materials and the valuable links provided. Participants had many questions for the trainer during the classroom instruction and later during the applied demonstrations in electric and hybrid vehicles.
“The training, hosted by TC4, shows their dedication to the ideals of energy self-sufficiency and clean air,” noted Pate, a professor at the College of Southern Nevada, one of the NAFTC’s National Training Centers. “I was honored to be invited to give this presentation, and the support and professionalism extended by TC4 in setting up this event was outstanding. The participants seemed to enjoy the information, especially the hands-on vehicle familiarization.”
Event sponsors included Xcel Energy, the state’s largest electrical utility, and the American Lung Association in Minnesota with TC4. Demonstration vehicles included a Ford Escape Hybrid, a 2nd and 3rd generation Toyota Prius, a Ford Fusion Hybrid and an all-electric Nissan LEAF. The vehicles were provided by Inver Grove Heights Ford, Feldman Nissan, GSA and staff of Plug-In Connect, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the American Lung Association in Minnesota.
The Clean Cities Learning Program First Responder Safety Training was developed by the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium, thanks to grant funding from the U.S. Department of Energy Clean Cities Program.