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Hubbard County emergency responders attended a training with Butch Lysholm about new vehicle technology. Above, Lysholm tests airbags and seat belt mechanisms. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

Responders learn auto technology

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Responders learn auto technology
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

Arriving at the scene of a car accident can be chaotic. The array of new hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles along with new restraint systems can make the scene even more difficult for responders.


The Lake George Fire Department and First Responders hosted training on hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles for all Hubbard County responders Monday.

Emergency response workers from across the county attended the training and learned about the potential safety concerns associated with emerging technology in vehicles.

Airbags can be a concern for responders at the scene of an accident.

"Every vehicle is different," said Butch Lysholm, who presented information to the responders Monday night. He works for Occupational Automotive Industry Related Education (OAIRE).

"Always approach a car from the side," Lysholm said. "And always assume front airbags are alive."

This is safer than approaching from the front or rear where parts could fly out. It's best to keep a distance from the airbags.

Many new vehicles don't use keys. Instead, a button stops and starts the car.

After approaching a vehicle the first steps to take are shutting off the vehicle and disconnecting the battery.

The trick is that batteries aren't always in the same place.

New hybrid or electric vehicles typically have a fuel cell toward the rear of the vehicle with cables running to the front. Once again, each vehicle is different.

Lysholm demonstrated a few seat belt mechanisms and instructed responders to make sure they cut them in the right place so they don't snap back.

Because vehicles are so different and technology is always changing he suggested using extreme caution before cutting anything.

He provided a manual with details about many of the new hybrids and electric vehicles for each agency to have on hand.

Lake George Fire Department and First Responders Chief Miff Soderberg said he hopes to have more group trainings with other agencies in the county.

"We're promoting mutual aid in the county and trying to have trainings at different locations," he said.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561