A new technology item that is appearing more and more is the ‘Seat Cushion Airbag’. In the past two years, seat cushion airbags have become popular as an new way of protecting occupants in front seats during a frontal collision..
Typically found under the driver’s front seat and/or the passenger’s front seat, these small airbags inflate just enough to raise the front portion of the seat cushion. When the seat bulges up, it works to keep the occupant in the correct position during the frontal collision. Seat cushion airbags can be under just the driver’s seat, under only the passenger’s front seat, or both front seats can have seat cushion airbags. For example, the 2015 Toyota Corolla and the Highlander SUV have only a seat cushion airbag for the front seat passenger.
How this is important to rescuers is that these seat cushion airbags use stored gas inflators to create the lift or bulge in the front section of the cushion. There is a risk of accidental deployment if a rescue crew were working to move or remove a front seat with these airbags; especially if the team had not shut down the vehicle’s electrical system.
Identifying the presence of a seat cushion airbag requires that rescuers observe multiple airbag IDs on the same seat. These aren’t two IDs telling you about one standard side-impact airbag. It’s two IDs, with one of them indicating that a seat cushion airbag is beneath that seat.
Example shown is the driver’s seat of a 2014 Scion xD vehicle. Note one ID on the seatback for the familiar side impact airbag and the second ID on the seat cushion, indicating the presence of a seat cushion airbag.
Look for this and more new technology items in a 3-part University of Extrication series in Firehouse Magazine, beginning with the December 2014 issue.