First responders across the country have been busy learning about advanced electric drive vehicles thanks to a National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC) training that teaches them how to respond to an accident scene involving these vehicles.

During January and February, five NAFTC National Training Centers offered Electric Drive Vehicle First Responder Safety Training, a curriculum developed as part of the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Electric Drive Vehicle Education Program.

They included Community College of Baltimore County, Jan. 19; Seminole State College of Florida, Jan. 20; Ivy Tech Community College, Lafayette Campus, Jan. 28; Peninsula College, Feb. 4; and Wenatchee Valley College, Feb. 18.

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. 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.

“Participants were very interested to learn and see the location of the components, battery packs and various routings of the high-voltage cables,” said Eric Erskin, Automotive Technology program chair and assistant professor at Ivy Tech – Lafayette. “Participants were extremely eager to have and use the QRGs and have lab time to locate the high-voltage components on the vehicles that we had on display for them to work with.”

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Participants in Ivy Tech’s First Responder Safety Training check out various advanced electric drive vehicles during the workshop Jan. 28. Credit: Ivy Tech – Lafayette

The vehicles Ivy Tech had available were a Chevy Volt, a Chevy Silverado Hybrid and two Toyota Prius models, one of which was converted to a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. Two battery electric vehicle (BEV) conversions also were used, along with the school’s BEV go-karts.

Not only is the curriculum teaching first responders how advanced electric drive will reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil and help keep our air clean, but it is also providing them with important information to enhance their understanding of the differences between electric drive vehicles and conventional, gasoline-powered vehicles.

“This is an awesome class loaded with up-to-date information,” said Clallum County, Wash., Fire District 2 Captain Mike DeRousie, who attended Peninsula College’s course. “All firefighters and law enforcement officers should take this class.”

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Captain Mike DeRousie of Clallum County, Wash., Fire District 2, sits in the driver’s seat of an all-electric Nissan LEAF while Peninsula College Automotive Technology Program Coordinator Mike Hansen, center, offers hands-on instruction during the Electric Drive Vehicle First Responder Safety Training at the college Feb. 4. Credit: Peninsula College

One of the unique characteristics of the First Responder Safety Training is a quick reference guide (QRG) – a flipbook for emergency personnel to use at the scene of an accident. It details various makes and models of electric drive vehicles, alerting first responders to such items as high-voltage cables, cut zones and other safety information. The QRG also is available as a mobile app for Apple devices and will soon be available on the Android platform.

The First Responder Safety Training is open to firefighters, law enforcement officers, paramedics, emergency medical technicians and hazardous response officials.




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