An incapacitated driver may have his Prius key in his pocket, but that doesn't mean the motor isn't still running and dangerous if handled improperly. Quirky hybrid factoids such as this are making fire fighters, EMTs and other first responders nervous, according to a recent article in the New York Times. The unfamiliar characteristics of high-voltage vehicles may lend to closing the "golden window of opportunity," a phrase used by rescuers to describe the window of time in which rescue success rates are high.
No incidents have been reported yet, but the 23-page instruction manual detailing a seven-step process to disable the motor indicates that rescuers have grounds for feeling intimidated.
Like the conscientious companies they are, hybrid manufacturers have started conducting classes for first responders to help them become familiar with the technology.