Members of the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC) recently participated in a unique hands-on electric vehicle experience when they attended a business and professional development meeting at Tesla Motors.

Held at the company’s headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., the professional development portion featured Electric Drive Vehicle First Responder Safety Training on Dec. 6-7. The train-the-trainer workshop was the fifth of its kind to ensure first responders nationwide have the opportunity to expand their knowledge of electric drive vehicle accident response procedures. The NAFTC produced the curriculum under the Advanced Electric Drive Vehicle Education Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The First Responder Safety Training consists of four modules titled Hybrid Electric Vehicles, Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles, Battery Electric Vehicles and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles – all of which contain educational videos and animations. The suite of products includes instructor manuals, participant booklets and the quick reference guide (QRG), which is available as a mobile app on Apple devices. Online courses will be available this year.

Participants learn important information needed to safely respond to accidents involving advanced technology vehicles. These topics include key vehicle properties and characteristics, vehicle components, vehicle identification and recommended first responder procedures. The First Responder Safety Training’s target audiences are firefighters, law enforcement officers, paramedics, emergency medical technicians and hazardous response officials.

NAFTC National Instructor Mark Schmidt and Yuba College Instructor Gary Garrisi, an expert in electric vehicle safety training and a contract instructor with the NAFTC, team taught the two-day workshop.

Tesla Gary Garrisi

Yuba College Instructor Gary Garrisi, an expert in electric vehicle safety training and a contract instructor with the NAFTC, leads the Electric Drive Vehicle First Responders Safety Training at the Tesla Motors headquarters Dec. 6-7. Credit: NAFTC

“On the first day, Gary covered all the first responder information, and I was there to answer technical questions,” Schmidt explained. “The second day was the train-the-trainer portion. I delivered a presentation that showed our National Training Center (NTC) members how automotive instructors may teach the material.

“I gave them tips on how to prepare a PowerPoint presentation in a way that’s easier to understand,” he continued. “I also pointed out first responder terms that are unfamiliar to automotive instructors and encouraged them to team up with a first responder when conducting a training, if possible.”

Schmidt said being at the Tesla Motors facility added a unique aspect to the section covering battery electric vehicles (BEVs) because the participants were able to gain hands-on experience with the Tesla Roadster, an all-electric vehicle.

“The Tesla Roadster is a vehicle that our members don’t normally have access to,” said NAFTC Assistant Director of Operations Bill Davis, who also attended the meeting. “Being there and being able to see that vehicle and talk to the Tesla personnel made a big impact on our members.”

On Dec. 8, members attended the NAFTC business meeting portion of the event. Davis, NAFTC Assistant Director of Training and Curriculum Development Micheal Smyth and NAFTC Assistant Director of Communications Judy Moore provided updates on their projects.

Tesla Motors Service Training Instructional Designer/Service Technical Support Michael McConnell on Dec. 9 conducted a professional development session on the Tesla Roadster. He discussed its capabilities, safety features and technical information.

Tesla Mike McConnel presentation

Tesla Motors Service Training Instructional Designer/Service Technical Support Michael McConnell makes a presentation about the Tesla Roadster. Credit: NAFTC

Attendees also were allowed to take Roadster rides, and they toured Tesla’s Fremont, Calif., facility, where the company’s new Model S is being manufactured. “It was a very interesting tour of a new generation of automotive manufacturing plants,” Davis noted.

Tesla EVs in parking lot

NAFTC members check out Roadsters in the Tesla Motors parking lot. Credit: NAFTC

Both Davis and Schmidt pointed out that the Tesla Motors staff attended the NAFTC’s First Responder Safety Training and were available to talk with the members and answer questions. “Our members benefitted from those discussions with professionals in the electric vehicle industry,” Davis commented. “Overall, it was an excellent meeting.”

Schmidt agreed, adding, “Everyone really liked it. It was one a well received professional development activity. Our members participate in professional development sessions at all our business meetings.”

Tesla Group 1

NAFTC staff, NTC members and Tesla personnel take a tour of the company’s Fremont, Calif., facility. Credit: NAFTC

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