Tesla teaches first responders about electric cars

December 7, 2011 8:41:23 PM PST
First responders have been dealing with car crashes for years, but new technology on the road means new training programs are needed to teach people what can happen in case of an emergency.

The crowd Wednesday wasn't just admiring Telsa's sleek design of the all-electric roadster. The community college instructors were learning the high voltage system has impressive built in safety features.

"The battery packs, which most people think might present a danger, are encased with aluminum and other materials that disables any potential it could be hazardous," Tesla spokesperson Camille Ricketts said.

Just like their gas and diesel counterparts, hybrids and all-electric vehicles have automatic triggers to cut off power after a crash. Still what's under the hood and what's not is new to first responders.

"They are built differently than they were built before, which is challenging us with equipment we have, types of training we have," Menlo Park Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said.

That's one reason the Department of Energy supports classes like the one that took place at Tesla. The National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium is teaching people across the country how to bring first responders up to speed on the latest in automotive technology.

"We teach them how to disable the vehicle take power down and safety get occupants out of the vehicle," William Davis said.

One of the first lessons: that the industry standard for high voltage cables is orange.

The first responder training safety training manual is going mainstream in the form of a free app for iPhones and iPads. Early next year it will be available on Android devices.

The app is called QRG for quick reference guide. There's a list of alternative fuel manufactures, specific vehicles and color coded diagrams which highlight where first responders will find the battery, high voltage cables and air bags.

"What this helps them do is add to their toolbox of skills," NAFTC spokesperson Micheal Smyth said.

The people that got hands on training are now on a mission to pass it forward.


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