Chevrolet and OnStar to train emergency responders on electric vehicle technology

Firefighter cutting open crash-tested Volt – Click above for high-res image gallery

When the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf go on sale late this year, they will be just the first of a wave of new battery powered vehicles that will hit the streets over the next several years. Undoubtedly it won't be long after those cars hit the streets before some of them are involved in accidents. While previous electric vehicles have never been offered in any significant numbers, these vehicles are expected to be sold in volume, so Chevrolet and OnStar want emergency personnel to be prepared.

General Motors is announcing that it will sponsor a series of special training events for first responders over the next several months to ensure that everyone understands the unique features of the Volt. From the powertrain perspective, the Volt won't be treated that differently from current hybrids as the battery voltage is not that much higher (366 volts vs 270-300 volts for most hybrids). Dealing with the high-strength steel body structure may actually be the most challenging aspect for firefighters trying to rescue occupants.

The first of this series of training sessions will take place in Chicago in August IAFC's Fire-Rescue International Conference. This will be followed by other events in the initial retail markets for the Volt in California, Michigan and Washington DC.

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[Source: Chevrolet]


Chevrolet and OnStar Ready First Responders for Electric Vehicle Technology
  • Chevrolet and OnStar joins with the nation's leading first responder organizations to educate and train their members on electric vehicle technology.
  • Chevrolet and OnStar plan multi-city education and training tour later this year in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Detroit and Washington D.C.
  • First responder training is part of the continuous safety features of the Chevrolet Volt before, during and after a crash.

SAN FRANCISCO – In celebration of National Safety Month, Chevrolet has joined with OnStar and leading national first responder organizations to announce the first automotive manufacturer-sponsored training program to educate first responders nationwide on electric vehicle technology.

The announcement was jointly made today at the San Francisco Fire Department with leaders of Chevrolet, OnStar, the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA).

"We believe a first responder educational program is a needed step toward helping this very important group of life-savers understand electric vehicles in the event of a crash or other emergency," said Carmen Benavides, director, Chevrolet Safety. "The team at Chevrolet and OnStar along with first responder organizations are taking the lead as we introduce electric vehicles and other advanced technologies to the roads."

The training sessions will feature the Chevrolet Volt and will kick-off at the IAFC's Fire-Rescue International Conference held August 23-27 in Chicago. Together with OnStar, Chevrolet will also display the Volt at the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials conference in Houston August 1-4 and the NENA conference June 5-10 in Indianapolis. Chevrolet will host first responder sessions in Volt retail markets later this year including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Detroit and Washington D.C.

"Technological changes in the automotive industry requires change in fire and emergency service operations as well," said Chief Jack Parow, first vice president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. "The IAFC is proud to be working with Chevrolet and OnStar to ensure that fire responders are adequately trained in how to work with the new technology, both for their own safety and the safety of those they serve."

Over the last several months, Chevrolet has collaborated with first responder representatives from national safety organizations in the development of educational materials to be shared with fire fighters, law enforcement and emergency dispatchers nationwide. This will help ensure that the training will meet the needs and answer the questions their colleagues are likely to have about electric vehicles.

This feedback is being incorporated into training materials that will be available on the tour and will be posted on a private website for those departments that are unable to attend the training sessions in person.

The training will include an animation and illustrations of the Chevrolet Volt highlighting locations of high-strength steel, cut points for extrication, first responder labeling, automatic and manual electrical shut-off and more.

The Chevrolet Volt's safety features include safeguards before, during and, thanks to OnStar, after a crash. Before a crash, the vehicle's technology helps the driver stay on track with an antilock brake system, Stabilitrak and traction control. Additional crash avoidance features include daytime running lamps and hands-free calling capability through OnStar and Bluetooth. During a crash the Volt can reduce injuries with safety cage construction, sensors, crush zones, eight air bags standard and safety belts. And after a crash Chevrolet Volt has the added protection of OnStar which, in certain types of collisions, uses built-in vehicle sensors to automatically alert an OnStar Advisor who is immediately connected into the vehicle and can request emergency help to be sent to its location.

More than 50 crash tests at various speeds and angles have been conducted to date in the development of the Chevrolet Volt, including front, side and rear impacts as well as rollovers. There is extensive use of high strength steel in the body structure in order to achieve outstanding safety performance.

Over the last several years, Chevrolet has been working to get the country ready for electric vehicles like the Volt. Since the Volt was announced as a production program in 2007, Chevrolet has joined with the Electric Power Research Institute and 10 major electric utilities across the country, collaborated with several local and state governments in key states, and met with city stakeholders in important markets to ensure widespread consumer adoption of electric vehicles. The Chevrolet Volt will launch in select markets later in 2010.

About Chevrolet
Chevrolet is a global automotive brand, with annual sales of about 3.5 million vehicles in more than 130 countries. Chevrolet provides consumers with fuel-efficient, safe and reliable vehicles that deliver high quality, expressive design, spirited performance and value. In the U.S., the Chevrolet portfolio includes: iconic performance cars, such as Corvette and Camaro; dependable, long lasting pickups and SUVs, such as Silverado and Suburban; and award-winning passenger cars and crossovers, such as Malibu, Equinox and Traverse. Chevrolet also offers "gas-friendly to gas-free" solutions including the Cruze Eco and Volt, both arriving in late 2010. Cruze Eco will offer up to 40 mpg highway while the Chevrolet Volt will offer up to 40 miles of electric, gas-free driving and an additional 300 miles of extended range (based on GM testing; official EPA estimates not yet available). Most new Chevrolet models offer OnStar safety, security, and convenience technologies including OnStar Hands-Free Calling, Automatic Crash Response, and Stolen Vehicle Slowdown. More information regarding Chevrolet models, fuel solutions, and OnStar availability can be found at

About OnStar
OnStar, a wholly-owned subsidiary of General Motors, is the leading provider of in-vehicle safety, security and communication services. OnStar is available on more than 30 MY 2010 GM models. OnStar is standard for one year on nearly all new GM retail vehicles in the United States and Canada. OnStar provides services to more than 5.5 million subscribers in the U.S. and Canada. Shanghai OnStar Telematics Co. Ltd., a joint venture between OnStar, LLC, Shanghai Automotive Industry Sales Co., Ltd. and Shanghai General Motors, provides services in China. More information about OnStar can be found at OnStar Stolen Vehicle Slowdown is a recipient of the 2010 Edison Award for Best New Product in the technology category.

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