Extricating crash victims from an electric car is a real-life game of Operation, only with much, much more electricity. Both first responders and passengers are in danger of being exposed to high-voltage components that aren’t likely to let them off with a giddy tickle. Complicating matters further, the location of the danger points vary from vehicle to vehicle.
To continue doing their jobs safely, emergency crews now have to be trained on the model-specific anatomy of electric cars. For the sake of education, Tesla donated a sacrificial Model S to the Fremont Fire Department’s Jaws of Life recently.
In this training video the firemen demonstrate how to operate on the S without shocking themselves into hockey puck hamburgers. Footage begins around the 27-minute mark where the crew begins to dissect the front-end of the car, paying special attention to avoid coming in contact with the car’s electrical zap-points (I believe that’s the technical term).
Keep in mind these firemen had the benefit of operating on an electric car that hadn’t been involved in a wreck. In a real-world scenario the S would have been damaged to some degree, possibly distorting the electrical dangers the safety procedures are designed to avoid.
The training Tesla and other electric automakers are collaborating with first-responders on is critical. As more battery-powered cars hit the road, Jaws of Life technicians will have to become students of the genre, walking encyclopedias of any electric car they’re called to operate on.
For now we can be sure the guys of the Fremont Fire Department are up to speed on how to safely dissect a Model S. If you had to wreck a Tesla, their jurisdiction would be as good a place as any to do it.