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Vehicle Rescue Size-Up Training

This University of Extrication Newsletter takes a vehicle rescue size-up look at a fatal collision involving a 2009 Ford Mustang.  The vehicle vs. vehicle head-on collision killed the lone driver occupant. As we examine some of the damage to the Mustang, we’ll correlate the damage and vehicle structural failures to potential entrapment problems and extrication work that might have to be accomplished at a crash scene.

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Head-on collision damage evident on 2009 Ford Mustang

Collision damage, as seen above, is severe; more on the driver’s side than on the passenger’s side. You are thinking jammed door and probably dash rolling or dash jacking will be required. At this point, you also anticipate that the floorboard will be buckled as well.

During vehicle rescue size-up, a well-disciplined rescue officer will quickly note that the front tire you see is at or behind the front door hinge area of the A-pillar. This is not a good thing! As you look at the driver’s front A-pillar you also note that the A-pillar, windshield header, and roofline have all failed due to collision forces.

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Crash-damaged Ford Mustang door opened due to crash forces.

As you move to the side of the Mustang, you note that the driver’s door is open and not latched.  Your size-up indicates that the door structure has actually split open with the interior panel jammed into the B-pillar. This size-up information will impact how this door will have to be forced open if that is necessary.

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Failed rocker panel due to violent head-on collision

Once the door is opened, you observe that the base of the rocker panel has failed significantly.  You note that the driver’s legs and feet appear crushed in the floorboard that has buckled in this area. Because of what you see here, dash rolling would be preferred and more effective than dash jacking.

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Crash-damaged interior showing extrication challenges for driver occupant

Assessment of the interior  confirms that the steering wheel is within inches of the back of the driver’s seat. The ring could be cut away if needed. The steering column and most of the structural components of the dash and instrument panel have been moved rearward significantly on the driver’s side. Once again, if this were a rescue and not a recovery, an interior team would locate and sever the dash tie downs as the dash is rolled off the trapped driver.

This case study shows how practice conducting size-up training can be accomplished with damaged vehicles even when they are no longer at a crash scene. Visit a cooperative salvage yard in your district and practice your vehicle rescue assessment skills on the crash-damaged vehicles you find there.

About Ron Moore

Ron Moore retired as a Division Chief with the McKinney (TX) Fire Department. He is now employed part-time with the Prosper, TX Fire Rescue and the Plano Fire Rescue. Ron is the author of now over 200 published articles in his renowned University of Extrication series, featured each month in Firehouse Magazine and is the moderator of the University of Extrication interactive section of the Firehouse.com website.