As Community Outreach Lead for the Electric Vehicles Program, I am involved in education initiatives throughout North Carolina. One area I’m focused on is first responder training. You might be saying to yourself, “First responder training, why are they working on that?”
With almost 1,000 Plug- in Electric Vehicles (PEVs) owned by North Carolinians traveling on our roads today, first responders can face new challenges when dealing with emergencies involving these cars, especially in extrication situations where the removal of a car around a person who has been in an accident. They need to understand how to quickly disable the vehicle, and how fire control and extrication strategies can differ from vehicles with traditional combustion engines.
We’ve collaborated with Advanced Energy and representatives from the North Carolina Community College system to develop hands-on training that will prepare first responders to protect themselves and the public in the event of an emergency involving a PEV. The hands-on component of this course is unique: we supply a Chevy Volt for the training, enabling students to see first-hand what they are being taught in the classroom. The plan is to offer the course at local community colleges, at no charge to the first responders.
We delivered our first course on May 30th at Davidson Community College in Thomasville, and it was taught by Rich Cregar, the Department Head of Advanced Transportation Technologies, at Wilson Community College.
“This PEV First Responder training is a significant new training program that will be useful to all emergency responder agencies in North Carolina,” says Chris English, Research and Program Development Supervisor for the North Carolina Office of the State Fire Marshal. “PEVs are growing in number and are here to stay. As first responders we have to be aware of how to handle this new technology.”
We’ll offer the same course this summer in the Triangle Region, at Durham Technical Community College, and in the greater Charlotte region, at Central Piedmont Community College. Once these three sessions are complete, we’ll continue to partner with the State Fire Marshall’s Office to develop long-term solutions so that all first responders have access to this important training in the future. We intend to share this information for other states in Duke Energy service territory to use as a model as in their community readiness efforts.