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Disabling vehicle power (battery) is common practice when arriving at almost any auto accident. Cutting the vehicles battery is the first thing shouted with authority, when asked about procedures of first arriving units. However, what if it’s not always the best thing to do?   I am not questioning IF a vehicle should be de-energized. They absolutely should! However, what if the vehicle shouldn’t be secured as a first step? Am I challenging current standards? Possibly, but hear me out.

Last shift I responded to and MVC with heavy entrapment. The patient was very awkwardly pinned while inverted. As we approached the scene the headlights were still on and I instantly thought of securing the vehicles power. But one step that I always focus on is assessing the entrapment level and seat configuration prior to securing the power. Majority of modern vehicles are using power seats which can greatly assist you in patient access if you allow them to.  There is a time and place for battery to be secured quickly. However, I make it a habit to assess the benefits of leaving vehicle power intact prior to de-energizing. For example, take a patient trapped by the legs on a rear under-ride.  If possible, couldn’t leaving power intact initially allow you to?

#1 Recline or move occupant away from un-deployed airbags

#2 Move seat away from dash area to assess or free trapped extremities

#3 Allow access to assist in treatment (Intubation/Airway, IV, Medications, etc.) of trapped PT

#4 Allow rescuer access to make “occupiable space”  

#5 Provide a “natural traction” when slightly reclining trapped PT's with femur fractures

#6 Allow a trapped PT some "breathing room" which can greatly increase their demeanor/status

I am challenging you to assess your methods.  Are they something that your department has used and trained on extensively? Have you evolved your methods through training and experience combined? Or are the methods you currently using old enough to vote?

ISAAC FRAZIER is a Special Operations Lieutenant with St. Johns County Florida’s Heavy Rescue “Squad 4”. First due to the deadliest stretch of roadway in the nation, Frazier teaches from personal street experience providing tried and true tactics. Frazier is the owner of Tactical Advantage Training and creator of the course Tactical Extrication. Frazier travels nationally sharing his passion teaching fire and extrication courses. Frazier is a FDIC lecturer, FDIC Lead HOT Instructor, Fire Engineering Contributor, Fire Officer II, FL Paramedic, Special Operations Officer, Florida State Instructor, FLUSAR Tech, Diver, and FL Hazmat Tech.


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