Doug / 05-19-2008 / Newsletter

Florida Rescue Workers Slowed by Auto Accident Safety Devices

As automobile manufacturers begin to implement safety devices that are meant to save lives during auto accidents, Florida rescue workers are finding that the increased reinforcements are also hindering the extraction of injured occupants.

New Technology

New technology has lead auto manufacturers to implement reinforced alloys, multiple air-bags and impact-absorbing crumple zones into vehicles to help prevent serious injury during an accident. This new technology is also preventing rescue workers from being able to extract injured auto accident victims.

Although there have not been any cases of a fatality due to Florida rescue workers not being able to extract auto accident victims quickly, on vehicles manufactured after 2005, extraction times are significantly longer. A typical extraction prior to 2005 would take from 10 to 15 minutes. On new vehicles, it may take up to twice that long, or longer.

New Equipment is Needed

The equipment that rescue workers use must be up to date with the vehicle safety standards in order for extraction to take place. Rescue agencies with equipment that is older than 2005 may not be able to do their job at all.

Florida rescue workers have not had to begin replacing all of their equipment, but they have needed to find new ways to use it. In some instances, if the frame of the vehicle is too tough, rescuers may switch to a tool that can bend the frame.

First Responders Continue Training

Firefighters have needed to under go updated training in order to be able to cut through car doors without setting off multiple side-impact airbags.

If an airbag deploys during a rescue attempt, the amount of pressure and force is enough to kill an auto accident victim. It has been routine to cut the automobile’s battery cables before a rescue attempt in order to prevent unwanted airbag deployment.

Another danger caused from new technology is cell phones and laptops that are plugged into the cigarette lighter. The batteries on cell phones and laptops are strong enough to activate the airbags.

Manufacturers of Victim Extraction Equipment

The manufacturers of victim extraction equipment must continue to increase the strength of their equipment, which increases the cost. A Jaws of Life costs up to $25,000 without hydraulic spreaders or other necessary tools.

The spokesperson for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated that passenger vehicle fatality rates are the lowest they have ever been due to advances in both car manufacturing safety standards as well as auto accident rescue efforts.

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