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When responding to an emergency situation involving an electric vehicle, trained personnel are urged to take special precautions. For instance, if emergency responders have to rescue a person from a battery-powered vehicle, they are told to first ensure that the car's high-voltage system has been properly disabled. It should happen automatically, but one needs to make sure, and that task may seem simple, but it's a multi-step process (outlined by the flowchart above) that can become exceedingly complicated.

Nissan and, for that matter, most other automakers readying plug-ins for launch, have gone to great lengths to ensure that first responders are adequately trained to deal with the complexities of rescuing potential victims from battery-powered autos. Whereas Nissan's First Responder's Guide (PDF) tells rescuers to wait ten minutes to allow the Leaf's high-voltage system to fully discharge before entering the vehicle or cutting it open with the "jaws of life," we believe that those arriving on the scene will ignore many of the warnings and throw caution to the wind, as they so often do, and simply act upon instinct to save lives.

Click here (PDF) to view Nissan's 2011 Leaf First Responder's Guide in its entirety.

[Source: Plug In Cars]


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  • 13 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      The first rule of First Responding is: "Never make things worse by making yourself another casualty." Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. Do it quickly, but always do it. Rushing in to do something now instead of figuring out what's going on so you can do something useful is why Fire & Paramedics refer to cops as the Blue Canaries, complete with gallows humor jokes about how to assess a hazmat scene based on what happened to the cops.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Funny choice of words for a HV safety plan "If you cannot CONDUCT procedures A, B, or C"
      • 4 Years Ago
      Someone who has been badly injured might not have ten minutes....
      • 4 Years Ago
      Is that the * Emergency * procedure ??? It is an emergency, remember. Not a good time to read manuals.
      For a car you expect something simple, not a ten page shut-down check-list like a space shuttle. Something like pulling the ignition key.

      And the airco runs of the drive battery? If it really needs to run while parked (wasting energy) why not from the 12V.

      BTW
      My previous car pressurised the fuel lines upon opening the driver door. Also not very elegant.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "It is an emergency, remember. Not a good time to read manuals."

        Au contraire. Take flying, for example. With the exception of certain must-react-instantly emergencies, EVERY emergency when flying an airplane involves pulling out and following the correct, WRITTEN, emergency procedure. And even the must-react-instantly emergencies have set procedures - it's just that you have to know them by heart and be able to react correctly right away.

        Your criticism, in other words, is way off base.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I recall reading stories of passersby and first responders arriving at the scene of an accident in which the vehicle had just burst into flames from leaking gasoline. They opened the door on the burning vehicle and grabbed out the burning person. Sometimes in time to save them, and sometimes not, and sometimes recieving serious burns themselves. I don't think there is a procedure for that.
      joated
      • 4 Years Ago
      Remind me as a "good samaritan" to look the other way should I ever come across a Nissan Leaf rolled in a ditch with screaming driver/passengers inside.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I have no idea why you should imagine that first responders will ignore guidelines.
      Aren't they trained in the US?
        • 4 Years Ago
        If you are not a trained first responder, that is a very different matter, and yours is the human reaction.
        Training covers, for instance, if the vehicle is on fire what is the correct extinguisher, as you can easily make it worse if you use the wrong one, hazardous chemicals training, and on and on, so that the 'first responders', when you are referring to the emergency services, or even a competent first aider, are far from naive in their response, but follow set procedures and check lists, for the very good reason that they will endanger people, including themselves, if they don't.
        On spotting a wrecked electric vehicle, trained first responders will be as aware of the hazards of shorting, as they are of fire in petrol vehicles.
        • 4 Years Ago
        No way I would wait 10 minutes. Could easily be the difference between life and death to occupants.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Major YAWN!!

      Hybrids with large battery packs have been getting in car wrecks for more than a decade. Still never a documented case of any first responders being killed by a battery pack.

      Not a new problem. Current safeguards and training is working. Of course as long as there are large amounts of potential energy carried in a vehicle, there is a chance of it being released in a deadly manor. This will always be true regardless of how that potential energy is stored. That's why first responders aren't a bunch of clueless wimps, they are brave trained professionals.

      In other news; coming up here on our six-o'clock report, a warning to everyone this summer to watch out for snakes!
        • 4 Years Ago
        There are about 2 million hybrids on the road now, and there have been accidents, so if there were any serious problems they would have already shown up.

        This is more of a "Better be safe than sorry" preparation plan, the actual risks are far less than with highly flammable gasoline.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Saying that there is little chance of a fatality among first responders because it's never happened before is somewhat ridiculous. In a few years, automakers are planning on there being many times more electric vehicles on the road, and with increased numbers on the road comes increased numbers of accidents involving electric vehicles, which will increase the chance of electrocution. Taking a precaution, such as issuing this .pdf is a good start to educating both first responders, EMTs, firefighters, and the general public.
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