SPRING HILL, Tenn. (WKRN) — More and more Tennessee drivers are going electric, with more than 20,000 EVs registered in the state.
The EV boom is also supporting a growing industry, but there are some challenges, especially for first responders.
“We’re helping first responders feel confident when they respond to incidents with electrified products that they can find a lot of things on the internet. And we’re trying to dispel those myths of the internet to give them the firsthand experience and knowledge from our subject matter experts both at GM OnStar, and the Illinois Fire Service Institute,” said Allison Lenhoff with General Motors.
The headlines and the images from EV involved accidents can be dramatic. EVs burn hotter, longer, and have to be attacked differently than standard car fires.
It’s training that GM has expanded recently to Tennessee.
“We’re here in Spring Hill, Tennessee delivering training, free training, no cost training for first and second responders in the Metro Nashville area here in central Tennessee, all around battery electric vehicles and giving them an idea a better idea and understanding and access to not just vehicle product and the batteries and the cells themselves, but also subject matter experts from across the company,” said Joe McLaine, GM global product safety and systems engineer.
Around 200,000 cars catch fire each year in the U.S., according to the National Fire Protection Agency.
The effort by GM to train first responders stems from a higher percentage of those fires involving lithium-ion batteries, as more EVs hit the road.
Lenhoff and McLaine are among the group at GM travelling the country to educate folks first on the scene when an EV is involved.
“You have so many automakers who are making these promises of an all-electric future, we want to get out there and make them feel comfortable, hopefully, before they come on to a scene and don’t know how to respond,” said Lenhoff.
The four-hour class covers the ultium battery pack.
“Battery packs are transported all around this country and all around the world on semi-trucks, they are in trailers, and those have accidents on the roads.” McLaine continued, “We have a battery pack that was involved in a semi-truck rollover during transport that we’ll talk about emergency response towards that.”
They’ll even look over a crashed electric Hummer learning valuable extraction methods and way sot disconnect any high voltage sources.
“We don’t want them to leave with any questions unanswered. Ask us anything they want to know. And this is unparalleled to bring subject matter experts from the company to do face to face training and answer any questions that folks have,” said McLaine.
The training is unique to the industry and in the end brings great comfort and renewed confidence for anyone who may be in harm’s way.
“We want to tell them, the things that are the same about their incident response, what might be different about their incident response. So, they know when they come upon something, that they feel comfortable that they know how to handle it,” said Lenhoff.