Hybrid cars pose special risk to first responders

Published 13 December 2006

High voltage a major problem; Toyota responds by offering training seminars for firefighters and other emergency personnel

As we have reported, emergency responders are facing a major challenge these days from hybrid cars. No, drivers of these environmentally-friendly vehicles are not more reckless drivers than others. Rather, the same high voltage batteries that creates hybrids’ fuel efficiency also pose a physical risk to firefighters. Readers may know that hybrids are often extremely quiet when running purely on battery power, and silence, as they say, is deadly. Responders “just want to know if there is still a live current in the car,” said Toyota’s Jeff Mayer. “They need to know so that they don’t compromise their own safety or that of the injured person.”

Toyota now offers training seminars, including classroom instruction and hands-on training — for first responders interested in learning more about handling hybrids. “What they are teaching today is how to know if the voltage is inactive or not, and if it is, how to deactivate it,” Mayer said. “Sometimes the car can be running, but you can’t hear it, so you would assume it’s off.”

-read more in this Marion Daily report