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GM improving electric vehicle safety by expanding EV First Responder Training program

Internal combustion-powered cars and trucks have been around for more than a century, so fire departments and first responders have a good understanding of how to manage these vehicles when they’re involved in a crash. But EVs are a whole different ball of wax. To make sure firefighters and first responders have the know-how necessary to safely and effectively deal with electric vehicles when the unthinkable happens, GM announced on Thursday the expansion of its EV First Responder Training program in the US and Canada.

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Specialized training will only get more important in the coming years because on its own, GM will have the capacity to build 1 million EVs by 2025, though practically every other car company is doubling down on electrics, too, meaning a lot more battery-powered vehicles will be prowling the world’s roadways in the near future. Accordingly, it will be imperative that firefighters and first responders have the knowledge to manage these vehicles in a crash.

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If an EV is involved in a crash, you’ve got to know what wire(s) to cut. Photo credit: GM

“The fire service has had more than 100 years to gain the knowledge needed to respond to internal combustion engine fires, and it is critical that they are now educated on EV safety,” said Andrew Klock, senior manager of education and development at the National Fire Protection Association in a release shared by GM. “The best way for the public and private vehicle fleet owners to rapidly adopt EVs is to train firefighters and emergency responders on how to handle incidents involving battery powered vehicles.”

In addition to GM’s efforts, the NFPA has hosted its own EV-related educational programs. To date, some 300,000 first responders have received specialized training, but it’s estimated at least 800,000 more of these folks should receive the same instruction.

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Tailor made for these heroes, the GM EV First Responder Training program’s curriculum includes live presentations, videos, animations and perhaps most importantly, hands-on instruction. This educational course will provide individuals with important information about EVs, provide best practices for dealing with battery-electric cars and trucks in a variety of situations and even dispel myths surrounding these vehicles.

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Firefighters and first responders usually aren’t as familiar with electric vehicles as they are with internal combustion-powered cars and trucks, which is why training is important. Photo credit: GM

This program aims to provide tailored information to relevant groups — for instance, emergency medical technicians may not need the same sort of training firefighters receive. Instruction will be delivered in four-hour blocks with up to two sessions per day taking place in major markets. Participants in GM’s EV First Responder Training program can earn a certificate of educational achievement if they receive a 70% or higher test score after completing the course. Once hands-on training is complete, they can also receive a certificate of completed training from the Illinois Fire Service.

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So far, successful pilot programs have been hosted in Southeastern Michigan, though other events will expand across the state later this summer. Training and outreach events will also be held in Fort Worth, Texas, the New York City metropolitan area and Southern California. Additional stops will also be made in San Antonio, Texas from Aug. 24-26 at the International Association of Fire Chiefs’ Fire-Rescue International conference and at the Fire Department Instructors Conference, which is scheduled to run from April 24-29, 2023, in redundantly named Indianapolis, Indiana.

Written by Craig Cole

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