Pickup Truck Extrication Evolutions


Here is a unique twist for extrications involving pickup trucks, which may be a vehicle that you haven’t had to deal with yet when working at a motor vehicle accident. Pickup trucks are popular vehicles and can have a variety of drivetrains; they also can use conventional (gasoline and diesel) or alternative fuels (hybrid or compressed natural gas). They have the same types of safety systems [frontal, side impact, and side/rear side curtain supplemental restraint systems (SRS) and seat belt pretensioners] and a variety of seat configurations. Yet, many of them have multiple doors—either a four-door cab or a “maxi-cab” configuration.

“Maxi-cab” trucks feature normal-sized front doors and two half-sized doors hinged in the opposite direction; thus, the vehicle has no B post, and the half-sized doors are extremely difficult to remove. The following evolutions show two different ways to remove both doors together, thus removing the entire side. The small door is secured at three latches (one top, one bottom, and one door-to-door) and two very large door hinges. The key to both evolutions is to begin cutting from the top of the small door at the top latch.


1. Get into the bed of the pickup, pry open the top of the small door, and cut the door’s latch (photo 1).

(1)Photos by author.

2. Use the spreader to work the rear of the small door open to expose the door hinges. Cut the hinges, but be aware that it might take as many as four cuts because of the door’s size (photo 2).


3. Use the spreader to push the small door’s lower part away and expose the bottom latch. Cut the bottom latch with the cutter.

4. Both doors will then swing open on the front-door hinges. Cut the front-door hinges; then cut the wiring loom with a hand tool and remove the side of the truck.


1. Climb into the bed of the truck and use the spreader to pop the small door’s top latch.

2. Use the spreader to widen the rear of the small door. Pop each of the small-door latches with the spreader (photo 3).


3. Force the lower part of the small door to expose the lower small-door latch. Pop the latch with the spreader (photo 4). Both doors will swing open on the front-door hinges.


4. Force the front-door hinges with the spreader, and cut the wiring loom with a hand tool (photo 5).



Four-door pickup truck side removal can be facilitated, as with any four-door vehicle, by performing a B post tear evolution. Start by forcing the rear-door latch with a power hydraulic spreader or by cutting it with a power hydraulic cutter. After prying the interior B post, trim to check for seat belt pretensioners in the bottom and at the top for side curtain SRS cylinders. Make a deep relief cut into the base of the B post in line with the rocker panel, then cut the top of the B post. Insert the spreader between the top of the relief cut and the rocker panel, and open the spreader, pushing the base of the B post away from the vehicle. As the B post tears away, you might need to reposition the spreader and/or use the cutter to facilitate the movement of the base of the B post. Once the B post is free, the entire truck—rear door, B post, and front door—should swing out on the front-door hinges. Now, either cut the front-door hinges or force them off with the spreader (photo 6).



Much like trunk tunneling, you can “tunnel” a pickup truck through the rear, especially with the popularity of four-door and maxi-cab pickup trucks. It works in many ways.

1. Use a reciprocating saw, power hydraulic cutter, or rescue air chisel to cut downward on each end of the front of the pickup bed.

2. Once the cuts are at the level of the pickup bed, cut across horizontally with the reciprocating saw or rescue air chisel.

3. Remove the front of the pickup bed.

4. Make a relief cut on the edge of each side of the back window with a reciprocating saw or hydraulic cutter.

5. Follow the cuts down with a reciprocating saw or rescue air chisel to the level of the pickup bed.

6. Make a horizontal cut with a reciprocating saw or rescue air chisel.

7. Remove the cab’s rear section.

8. Cut the bolts holding the rear seatback and remove it from the cab.

9. The rear seat cushions will then come out.


Dash displacement evolutions such as a dash lift, dash roll, or central ram push all work on a pickup truck. Remember, this type of vehicle has more material with which to contend such as high-strength reinforcements. Thus, it is very important to make that extra relief cut in the front crumple zone. Move the fender out of the way to get to the crumple zone, but remember that it might take more than one cut to sever it. Remember to remove the roof or take a six-inch piece out of the A posts to allow the dash to move. Also, build up enough cribbing under the A post to support your tool work.

In many ways, the sides of pickup trucks can be removed quickly to facilitate total side removal; the key is to use the vehicle’s leverage to gain access to the top of the small door. A four-door pickup truck can be attacked the same as a four-door car—using a B post tear to facilitate a total side removal. However, many rescuers don’t realize that, if needed, they can remove the rear of the truck much like a trunk tunneling evolution; the same goes for dash displacement rescuers. However, these vehicles are similar to passenger vehicles with regard to hazards. SRS, motive power issues, and power isolation need to be found and mitigated. The goal is to create space, regardless of what kind of vehicle you are dealing with in the extrication.

DAVID DALRYMPLE, AIETecRI, is a career EMS provider for the RWJUH Emergency Medical Services in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and a volunteer FF/EMT/rescue technician for Clinton EMS/Rescue in Clinton, New Jersey. He has been actively involved with the emergency services for 27 years. He is the education chair of the Transportation Emergency Rescue Committee – US (TERC). He is certified as an international level extrication assessor and serves on the Expert Technical Advisory Board of the IETRI as its road traffic accident advisor. He is the executive educator for RoadwayRescue LLC, an educational team for transportation rescue training. He writes the extrication column for Fire Engineering.com, contributed to the Fire Engineering Handbook for Firefighter I and Firefighter II, and has hosted extrication Training Minutes for Fire Engineering and three DVDs on vehicle rescue for Fire Engineering.

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