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The Rescuers’ Response to Hybrid Vehicles- Part 1

In reading many of the post, in both the forums and private groups, it seems that some are in need of information about dealing with hybrid vehicles. But with all the conflicting information available today, what are we to believe? What information can we depend on to keep us safe?

Today there are a lot of rumors, misunderstandings and misinformation out about hybrid vehicles that has created a great fear among emergency responders.

In doing research for the book I am writing, I posted this question on many forum boards:

“Has anyone responded to a hybrid vehicle accident?”

I received many replies from departments nationwide that said:

“We do not and will not do extraction on hybrid vehicles”

One major city’s fire department responded to a Toyota Prius that had run through the front of a convenience store. Upon arrival the vehicle had smoke showing from under the hood, because they had heard the rumors of electrocution they refused to put water on the hybrid vehicle. Instead they called the emergency number for the Toyota dealership and requested a service tech to come and shut down the high voltage system. Mean while, they tried to no avail to protect the structure and in the end lost both car and structure.

Another major city’s department was dispatched to a Toyota Prius that had hit a road barrier. The driver’s door was jammed and the passenger’s door was against the barrier. A news crew was on scene and filmed the firefighters standing and looking at the vehicle, doing nothing for 17 ½ minutes.

This is unacceptable for emergency responders!

But, were they wrong in protecting their crew?

One of the big problems is not only rumors, but people actually capitalizing on the human fear of the unknown. It is human nature to fear the unknown, and as people began to see cars on the road with 300-750 volt of electricity running through their systems, these rumors of electrocution naturally were started. But, with the first hybrid entering the U.S. ten years ago, why are we still unsure of what to do to safely operate around one of these vehicles?