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First responders learn how to handle electric vehicle crashes (photos)

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — Paramedics and fire personnel were among the nearly 20 local first responders who learned the ins and outs of different kinds of electric cars to protect themselves and car crash victims during a training session today.

The training was for first responders who might be called to accident scenes involving electric or hybrid cars, which participants said they have not yet encountered very much.

The training was led by The Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition, whose mission is to bring alternative and advanced technology fuels and vehicles to towns and cities throughout the state.

“We just want everyone to be safe- first responders as well as persons in the vehicle in the event of an accident, ” executive director Mark Bentley said.

Bentley said that electric cars are relatively safe, but that voltages of up to 400 could be dangerous if a responder is unprepared.

“There are no problems with electric cars now, but we want to prevent problems in the future,” he said. “It’s important that they [responders] know where to cut, what to cut, and what not to cut.”

Tracy Thornton, a paramedic with Decatur Fire and Rescue, said the classroom training was informative but not overwhelming. He said the group was advised about an app that lists information and user manuals for various makes and models of electric cars, so that they can look up specifics on their smartphones while on the scene, rather than having to memorize textbook material.

Responders from agencies across the city of Huntsville registered for the optional training, as well as from Alabama A&M, the city of Huntsville, Redstone Arsenal, Decatur Fire and Rescue and West Limestone Volunteer Fire Department.

One of the most knowledgeable people to speak to the group about electric cars was Josh Pritt, founder of Tennessee Valley EV Drivers and owner of a red Chevrolet Volt. He owns the first Volt sold in Alabama, and said he researched the car so much that he knew he wanted to buy it before it was even for sale.


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