Questions from Alternative Tool Evolutions Webcast

Dave Dalrymple answers questions from his August 2009 vehicle extrication Webcast, “Alternative Vehicle Evolutions.” To watch a free archived version of the Webcast, CLICK HERE.

Q. Is it OK to push on the air bags in the rooflines?

A. It is preferable to stay away from any supplemental restraint system (SRS) at all times.

Q. If your tools are cutting the metals, is tearing needed?

A. No, but the knowledge of how to do it can still be helpful.

Q. What is the protective netting on the patient?

A. Clear plastic sheeting and industrial bubble wrap.

Q. Any comments on stabilization, and new tools for that?

A. Many of the strut device systems are useful; however, the step chocks we use for vehicles on their wheels need to be reviewed, since many vehicles are much closer to the ground these days, thus making the step chock stick out very far–it becomes a trip hazard. A better choice might be quick or speed chocks, or even simple single cribs and wedges.

Q. I show the trench cut in classes. In light of the new FMVSS roof standard that is going into effect, do you think the trench cut will become a more valuable/viable option?

A. Possibly, however the crux will be the B  post to B post in the roof for the new standard that will probably make this evolution difficult in the future.

Q. When performing a central ram push, I understand that the ram must contact the dash reinforcement bar at the front of the vehicle, but what should the ram make contact with in the back seat area, since pushing off of the back seat does not seem to provide solid support for the ram? Also, why doesn’t the back seat collapse?

A. For both questions, rear seats are reinforced where they meet the seat bottom, plus many floor pans also curve upward in this location and add reinforcement to this area. Try it. If it works, great. If not, you will have to try another option.

Q. If you have trouble defeating the post, can you make quick V cut (pie cut) at the roofline where the post and roof meet?

A. That is an option; however, some reinforcements might reach that high as well.

Q. In slide 17, what is the long strut-looking device near the student’s hand? In slide 24, you show the cross ram on the B post. It appears there is a side curtain running across the roof area. Where are the sensors for that curtain?

A. Side impact sensors can be in many, many places, from the sides of the vehicle to the center of the vehicle.

Q. I saw the ram pushing into the radio on the central ram maneuver. Where do you place the opposite end of the ram?

A. At the joint where the seat back meets the rear seat bottom.

Q. When cutting the roof trench on vehicles such as minivans, how do you gain a height advantage to make a work platform for rescuers who are making the cut?

A. Small work platforms, such as the ones you find in your local hardware stores, work well, as do cribbing stacks and folding utility ladders.

Q. Are those blankets or bags that are being used to cover sharp areas?

A. They are Kevlar® covers (blankets) with magnets in the corners, Kevlar® post covers and Protect-O-Wrap® flashing tape.

Q. Can you talk about the advantages/disadvantages about using the reciprocating saw or air chisel in the roof trench evolution? What about the velocity of each tool?

A. Both tools work well and have similar strengths and weaknesses; however, with newer vehicles and their newer materials a reciprocating saw is a better choice.

Q. When you talk about the central ram push technique, do you always consider cuts at both sides in the base of the rocker panel?

A. The Swedes actually do not normally make a relief cut unless they are widening the footwell area.

Q. Other than Subaru, what other auto makers are using exotic steel and alloys in the manufacturing of their cars? What new alloys (steel, aluminum, magnesium, etc.) do you see in the near future in automobiles? Should we be concerned about these new alloys?

A. All OEMs use high-strength alloys these days without exception. These materials will make extrication and space creation more difficult in the future. Although you might have fewer people physically stuck in incidents, we will have more people medically entrapped because of a lack of workable space and/or injuries.

Q. What is the best way of deciding how and where to cut: the type/make of vehicle or nature of the MVA?

A. Both of them will play a role to an extent nowadays in making your decision. Always consider the situation of the incident and nature of injuries; but these days, the vehicles may also influence your decision-making.

Q. Would a roof trench be the best way if there is a sunroof on the vehicle?

A.  A roof trench on a vehicle with a sunroof or roof opening of some kind might be more difficult since the roof will be more reinforced to take into account the “missing” section of the vehicle’s roof.
Q. How do you get your hands on new materials to practice your skills?

A. It’s very difficult to get these materials unless they are from actual vehicles. Keep your eyes open for training opportunities that have new or newer vehicles. Salvage or junkyards, and even auto body shops, might have scrap segments or components that you could practice on.

Q. What length of ram works best for these techniques?

A. The longest ram is usually the best, and usually necessitates a ram extension.

Q. How do you do trunk tunneling on hybrid vehicles?

A. This evolution is possible on most hybrids; however, the Honda Civic and Accord hybrids and Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan hybrids have the HV battery in the rear seat back, so trunk tunneling is NOT advised on these vehicles.

Q. Regarding pushing the air bag, isn’t that a bad idea because of the possibility of accidentally hitting the module and turning the tool into an additional problem?

A. Yes. Stay away from any SRS systems.

Q. What’s the ballpark average time to perform a trunk tunneling extrication?

A. This is a difficult question to answer. Every situation is different; however, I’d say an experienced crew should be able to perform trunk tunneling in less than 10 minutes.

Q. With vehicle spreading in mind, how do you feel about moving the car from the object it is wrapped around to complete the evolution?

A. Although many say, “Never move a vehicle,” in some situations, it might be more practical to do so. The most important factors to consider are the nature of the entrapment, the nature of the patient’s injuries, and how to stabilize that patient.

Q. Should there be a minimum cutting strength (psi/cutting force) that you look for when buying cutters?

A. At least 100,000 pounds of cutting force is good. More is better; however, the shape of the cutter’s blades influence how cutting goes. Cutting power is important, but these days there are additional factors that need to be kept in mind. Always try a cutter to see how it cuts hardened materials as well as simple sheet materials.

Q. What reinforcement materials are present in the back seat to facilitate a central ram push?

A. These days, there are high-strength and exotic materials even in seat reinforcements.

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