There are more than 5.8 million vehicle collisions a year. In crashes where minutes can spell the difference between life and death, first responders to the accident scene need proper training so they can act quickly. The First Responders Emergency Extrication (FREE) program, from the National Auto Body Council, is a four-hour course that incorporates classroom and hands-on instruction, including demonstrations of vehicle cutting techniques.
On Nov. 2, Pete’s CARSTAR at 459 John Fitch Blvd in South Windsor, Conn., delivered the latest in vehicle emergency occupant extrication training at no cost to first responders, ultimately helping to save lives. Firefighters attended from South Windsor, Vernon, Ellington, Broad Brook, Warehouse Point, and Windsor. (For photos of the event, visit www.facebook.com/petescarstar.)
“First responders such as firemen require the most current vehicle information to be effective,” states Owner Pete Gutska, of Pete’s CARSTAR Auto Body Repair Experts. “FREE helps keep them up to date, which is more important than ever given the rapid onslaught of advancements in vehicle design such as high-strength steels, advanced restraint systems, and multiple air bags. The growing popularity of high-voltage hybrid vehicles also makes this class a necessity.”
Late model vehicles, donated by Progressive Insurance and area used auto parts companies, were available for participants to practice on, a great aspect of the program since most fire departments have no access to such vehicles.
“As its name implies, the FREE program is delivered at no cost,” says NABC Executive Director Chuck Sulkala. “This is a great opportunity for the collision repair industry, which has access to some of the most current information on vehicle design and construction, to pass it on to those needing it most.”
Shipman’s Fire Equipment Co of Waterford, a distributor of Holmatro extrication equipment, provided the trainers and key products that the attendees were able to practice using. The course was worth 4 hours of Continuing Education credit.