This is a huge industry issue right now. Major Extrication dealers (Holmatro, AMKUS, RESQTEC) often have the best edcuational tools out there... Holmatro actually came and taught extrication to our fire academy.
About the hydrids. we did an extracation training and touched on these. the batteries are in the floor pan of the car in most cases. apparently most of the bottom of the car is made up of the battery compartment. It is supposed to have very good safety precations in the design. According to our trainer, there is no risk of electracution while doing extraction from these. I am not sure about the contents of these batteries, if they have acid in them like traditional batteries. they have an automatic shut off, basicly like the fuel shut off on gasoline or diesel vehicles. there is an access point in the truck of floor of the rear passenger compartment on most models we reviewed. The cars are designed so that even if you would cut into the battery compartment you would not be at risk for electrocution or acid burns. there is some type of capacitor on them, but it is supposed to discharge its stored energy safety within a very short amount of time. not sure exactly how. We have never actually done an extraction on one however and I would definetly want to be more cautious with one. Something that done help to identify hybrids is the emblem is always somewhere on the car.
Just because I haven't had the Hybrid car training yet (June 08) can you run the hot stick over a piece of a car to see if the area has charged lines? I assume the cables run under the door? If you have any info to share I have plenty of time to read :)
Hybrids! The Killers! right. we give them to much credit. Yes, they do contain high voltage wires and batteries. However, they should be treated basically the same as a standard car.
First.. insure that the ignition is off.
cut 12 volt power
feel free to cut in any area of the passenger compartment. from a post to c... from the floor pan up, minus airbag hot zones you are safe.
The electric engine in the engine compartment is connected to the batteries(NIMH) in the trunk...or nearby. these wires should be orange. In minnesota, we have to consider after market undercoating could hide this.
door pops and roof removal should not interfere with any of the high voltage lines.
however... I do recommend that you find and download the emergency response guides for all hybrids...
Some of the better ones show diagrams of "safe zones".
sceneoftheaccident.com has a compiled list you can download for free!
stabalize, cut power.. maintain airbag awareness, and get em out and gone!
Contact a car dealer in your area, most of the time they will be glad to bring over a vehicle for you to look at(they do frown on the cutting part though) and the mechanics are a great wealth of knowledge on the tech end of the info.
NOT all high voltage lines are orange! That was supposed to be a voluntary standard for the manufactures to follow. However some newer GM's and Saturns use blue wire for high voltage lines. On the vehicles that we have looked at the high voltage wires ran thru C channel inside the rails of the under carriage, there were slots in the channel so that you could see the wire but undercoating and dirt/rust from normal wear and tear would probably hide these real fast.
All of the the vehicles had 2 seperate elictrical systems that need to be controlled. The regular 12 VDC system that we all are used to, and the system that goes with the elictric motor. Failure to disconnect the large batteries could result in electric motor engaging and vehicle trying to drive away. I know the newer Saturn's have the batteries in the rear compartment and opening the door to them will disconnect the battery. However like all other options on cars it varies from make to make and model to model.
One last word of caution is on some of the hybrid pickups they offer a contractor option that will install 3 115VAC outlets(2 in the bed and 1 in the passenger compartments) so you have to watch for those wires also running up from the frame. The pickups we looked at all had the large battery under the backseat(dealer did not have any regular cab hybrid trucks) and the shut off directions were clearly printed and visible.
As stated else where contact your rep that sold you your toolsthey should be able to get you an updated book with airbag and battery info. To do it cheaper search the 'net
I went to a very good class today on hybrid vehicles and airbags firstname.lastname@example.org this man was the instuctor and he is great. he writes for emsresponder.com and other blogs.
here are a few keys points
the hi voltage system is still controlled by the 12 v system. if we do the following we can drain the electric engine and high voltage cables be fore we cut through them. !. turn off anf remove the key, at least 16' from the car, the smart ket sends out a signal to the car and does not need to be in the vehicle. 2. diconnect the 12 v battery, neg cable first, or 3 remove the fuse for the high voltage system.
the high voltage wires can be orange, yellow or blue. s
ome ford and gm models have a switch that can be turned in addition to the above steps.
as fuel cell vehicles enter the market, hydrogen tanks under high pressure will be found on the vehicles
go to the websites for the different makes of the cars and print the emergency response guide and keep it in the engine for reference
Though hybrids are a different breed, I wouldn't let them drive you out of the extrication business. Just a little more to train on, but the basics don't change. Location of cables, batteries and airbags are really the difference.
Here is the link to Fire Graphics ERGs. http://www.firegraphics.org/ERG.htm
Find someone willing to give you one to cut on. Mitsubishi has been very kind the last few years and donates them to the fire school that we attend. A towing service might give you a wrecked one. Might cost you $50 to have it hauled in and hauled away, but it's worth it.