GM Expanding First Responder Training Program for EV Crashes

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【Summary】General Motors wants to give first responders the right training to deal with electric-vehicle crashes, which includes putting out fires.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Aug 10, 2022 7:30 AM PT
GM Expanding First Responder Training Program for EV Crashes

Electric vehicles are incredibly different than cars with internal combustion engines – that much is clear. But the differences can result in scary situations in the case of an accident. To help first responders get an idea of how to better deal with electric vehicles when responding to an emergency, General Motors started its initial first responder program nearly a decade ago when it launched the Chevrolet Volt. Now, GM is expanding its first responder program to provide first responders with more up-to-date information on how to deal with emergencies that involve modern EVs. 

Program Expanding For New EVs

GM's new EV First Responder Training Program will provide first responders with the know-how and knowledge on to respond effectively to emergency situations that involve electric cars like the Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUV, Cadillac Lyriq, and GMC Hummer EV Pickup. The training program will provide first responders with information on battery technology, which includes debunking common misconceptions about electric cars. GM specifically calls out water and how some people claim that it's dangerous when it comes in contact with an EV battery. GM claims that this misconception is false, as a large volume of water is what's recommended to put out a lithium-ion battery fire. 

The American automaker is looking to provide first responders with this kind of information by providing materials and curriculum that was developed with members of public safety communities. The information will be delivered over a four-hour block of instruction. GM claims that it can complete up to two sessions per day in major markets. 

"Our primary goal is to provide key information directly to first and second responders," said Joe McLaine, GM global product safety and systems engineer. "This training offers unique materials and hands-on experiences that can help increase responders' awareness of procedures to help maintain safety while interacting with EVs during the performance of their duties." 

EV Fires Are Tricky

According to Gizmodo, data provided by Autoinsurance EZ claims that EV fires in crashes are rate, as roughly 25 fires per 100,000 electric cars sold catch fire in an accident. For internal combustion cars, the figure is much higher with 1,529.9 fires per 100,000 cars sold. Hybrids have the highest numbers with 3,474.5 fires per 100,000 vehicles sold. While EV fires are rare, first responders have a hard time putting them out. 

As the outlet points out, a Tesla caught fire in April 2021 and took more than four hours and 300,000 gallons of water to extinguish. The problem was that the electric car's lithium-ion battery continued to reignite. The odd thing about electric car fires is that they can reignite randomly after an incident. There was an incident involving a Tesla that caught fire in a junkyard in Sacramento three weeks after it was involved in an accident.

EVs aren't nearly as popular are cars with internal combustion engines or hybrids, but automakers are coming out with new options at an alarming rate, so this kind of information will be crucial to first responders. 

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