How to Carry Out Extrication on Hybrid Vehicles

  Posted on 11th September 2010 by Loralee Hyde in UFBA News

By Remco Niks, Technical Rescue Consultant for Holmatro Rescue Equipment

From:  Fire and Rescue (UK), no78, 2nd quarter 2010, p56-58  
In response to environmental issues, electric powered vehicles are becoming popular among drivers eager to move to greener travel modes. Hybrid vehicles contain two different power systems, usually combining the use of petrol and an electrical engine.  There are three types of hybrids in the market, with differing degrees of electrical capability.  The Toyota Prius is a commonly seen full hybrid, which can operate completely on electric power.   
How does the electric power source affect your rescue operation, particularly when cutting is required?  
In this brief article from a UK magazine, Remco Niks describes the three types of hybrid currently on the market, and looks at the implications for emergency responders.  The full hybrid, he explains, is the one to watch out for.  To enable full electric drive, a higher voltage power system is required than found in most cars.  The most important point is that the high voltage system may remain powered up for 10 minutes after the vehicle is shut off or disabled.
Most cars use the metal body of the vehicle to ground the electrical charge. This works differently in a full hybrid, as manufacturers have created various safety systems to remove the risk of electrical injuries to responders. Niks explains how these protections work, and how you can safely disable a hybrid before cutting into the vehicle body for extrication.  
In his opinion safety features, such as roll over protection, will be the cause of more problems for responders than an electric power source.  

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