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Tough autos tough for rescuers

В рубриках: Automobile | Автор: admin 10.12.2010

Tough Autos, Tough for Rescuers

Hard metals, reinforced alloys, and upgraded auto materials make up tough vehicles. And tough vehicles are said to slash crash fatalities. But rescuers complain. Why? This is because it is tough for them to free the injured.

Undeniably, modern cars save lives by cocooning occupants in reinforced alloys, reliable crumple zones and a good number of airbags. But American rescuers and other experts said the new technology is also delaying extrication of injured people, increasingly forcing crews to work deeper into the critical “golden hour” between accident and emergency room treatment, reported Toronto Star.

Modern cars are equipped with more durable parts, more refined accessories, more powerful engines, and brightest projector headlight but there’s a catch along the improvements. According to reports, on many 2005 and later vehicles, an extrication that was previously perfected in 15 minutes can now take twice that or longer.

To remedy this, cities in the United States are shelling out tens of thousands of dollars on more powerful equipment to cut through newer autos. Hydraulic-tool makers, on the other hand, have to put more oomph into their equipment. As a result, the equipment becomes heavier and more painful to the government’s coffers.

What’s more, there are impending risks facing rescuers. Pressurized gas canisters responsible for inflating airbags can explode if sliced by cutting tools. When airbags suddenly inflate, rescuers can be blown from cars. Also, hidden battery cables in hybrids can produce a powerful shock.

To avoid troublesome incident, rescuers peel away the ceiling and interior plastic to see what is inside the vehicle. This is done prior to cutting metal sheets.

At present, experts aren’t sure whether the delays in extrication have resulted in people dying. But that’s the fear of safety experts. “We build more fire stations, we make faster fire trucks, we’ve got helicopters to get you to the hospital,” said Capt. Clint Roberts, an extrication expert. “But what’s slowing us down are these vehicles that are harder for us to get into.”

Automakers, meanwhile, said they’re doing more to make safety information available to rescuers and toolmakers before new models come out. Ford Motor Co., for one, is already offering a look at the skeleton of the 2009 F-150 pickup, built with the strongest steel construction the company has ever used. The Dearborn-based automaker understands the critical nature of rescuers’ work, said a Ford spokesperson in an interview.

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