Using Lifting Struts for Roof Resting Lift and Inverted Dash Displacement

Performing a dash displacement on an overturned vehicle can be a challenge. The method described below combines techniques involving stabilization, lifting, and extrication. The inverted dash displacement illustrates how effective stabilization and lifting facilitate rapid extrication of a pinned occupant in an overturned vehicle. Although in certain situations this method may not be a viable option, it’s an excellent technique to add to your list of options.

On an overturned car resting on a moderately crushed roof, executing a dash displacement presents a few rescue problems, especially when the occupant is pinned by the dash or steering assembly. The normal stabilization points on the underside of the vehicle are now unusable. Before cutting the A post to facilitate the dash displacement, you must stabilize the vehicle to avoid roof collapse. There is usually little room between the vehicle and the ground to displace the dash without causing unpredictable movement. Visibility in the passenger compartment may be quite limited because of roof damage and debris.

Without the correct equipment, stabilization can be a challenge. Cribbing the roof rail is undesirable if roof removal is required. Setting up box cribs at the vehicle rear are labor, time, and material intensive; would provide no positive vehicle engagement; and may also hamper patient access and extrication.

Vehicle rear end stabilization must be in place prior to cutting the A post. If space is needed between the dash and the ground to allow dash displacement, a rear lift of the vehicle may resolve this. Res-Q-JackTM lifting struts can address both issues when the techniques for roof-resting stabilization and rear lift are employed. The stabilization and lift techniques below are quick, repeatable, and safe for stabilizing and lifting the vehicle and permitting patient access and multiple extrication options.


Wedging the vehicle nose is the initial stabilization action. To prevent the vehicle from sliding, tie it to a fixed object or drive a picket through the hood and into the ground when possible.

A chain saddle around the rear of the vehicle or rear post chain wraps provides positive purchase points for the Res-Q-JackTM CRG heads. Place a jack strut at each side at an approximately 50° angle. Tie the bases to each other with a 3,300-pound working load limit (WLL) strap and then tighten. If lifting is desired, hook the rear facing cam straps preattached to the bases into the chain at a reasonable distance below the end fitting to create triangles on each side. Do not tighten these straps yet. Leave them somewhat loose to permit vehicle lift to occur without damaging the straps. If sway becomes a problem during lift, quickly tension the straps to prevent movement. Once the vehicle is close to the desired height, you may tighten the straps. Additional jacking will apply tension to these straps. A third stand may be applied at the rear of the vehicle by creating a purchase point in the rear of the trunk lid with a hammer and halligan if purchase cannot be made in another fashion. Attaching ratchet straps to the third stand base and the two side stand bases will tighten and restrain the third strut. Run the front-facing cam straps on the side struts up to the undercarriage to counteract the load of the third stand on the side stands. With the above method, equipment, and experience, you have a stable elevated roof-resting vehicle in minutes.

Photo courtesy of Res-Q-Jack, Inc.

The technique below allows visual access into the passenger compartment and exposes the hinge and Nader pin sides of the door simultaneously. First, squeeze the rocker panel just beneath the bottom door seam. Next, place the spreader tips between the rocker panel and the door bottom. A few small spreads should allow room to get the spreader tips to reach in past the door trim so that the entire door assembly can be spread outward, forming a “V” shape. Now, there is visibility into the compartment, and the Nader pin side and the hinge side of the door should be slightly opened to allow tool access.

Following door removal, spread the front fender panel away from the vehicle, exposing the A post and the upper fender rail; sever this rail just behind the front suspension. Next, cut out a section of the A post where the windshield meets the dash-this gap expedites operations by preventing the two cut ends from jamming together.

To avoid tearing or folding the floorpan, cut the A post aggressively from the dash side all the way into the wheel well at the bottom of the dash. Make a second cut higher toward the floorpan, just above the hinge. The section of A post between the cuts can be bent out toward the front of the vehicle with the spreaders.

Insert the spreaders into the cutout in the A post. Spreading should lower the dash. If this procedure is not working, use a ram between the base of the B post and the A post near the dash.

CRIS PASTO is an engineer with Res-Q-Jack, Inc. and a firefighter with the Spencer (NY) Fire Department.

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