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May 29, 2023 10:47 pm

Local News

Beyond Infrastructure, EV Movement Includes First-Responder Training

Credit: iStock

Mike Moen

The auto industry and public agencies are looking ahead to a bigger transition to electric vehicles, and it’s not just adding more charging stations.

Emergency Medical Technicians and firefighters in the Midwest are being offered training in responding to EV accidents.

First and second responders from Wisconsin and surrounding states will gather in suburban Chicago this week to learn about high-voltage components and other unique aspects of these vehicles.

General Motors and the University of Illinois Fire Service Institute are hosting the event. GM Staff Engineer Joe McLaine said there’s a lot of new information to know in keeping everyone safe in situations, such as a car fire.

“We make the recommendation to not pierce the battery pack, but look for ways to get that water inside,” said McLaine. “And one way is to make the vehicle like a hot tub: fill it up from the inside.”

He said this approach is more effective than spraying all over the exterior with the water running off and not reaching the heat source.

In addition to battery and EV technology, McLaine said the free training dispels misconceptions.

This week’s sessions are on Wednesday and Thursday.

While the training is open to all first responders, McLaine said it’s particularly important for rural EMTs and firefighters – many of whom are volunteers and may not have the same training as professionals.

“Most of the fire services in the United States, the vast majority are from volunteer fire departments,” said McLaine. “Where we’ve gone around the country, and where we’ve targeted certain areas that we deliver this training, we have seen a tremendous outpouring of support and appreciation for delivering this training.”

McLaine said technology for electric-powered vehicles has surfaced a number of times throughout automotive history.

And with a big build-up taking shape, he said the public should have confidence that key preparations continue to move forward as well.

“The future of electrification is real,” said McLaine. “It is something that the industry and folks who develop standards and think about this have taken very seriously over the last several decades.”

This story was written by Mike Moen, a producer at Public News Service, where this story first appeared.