The other night we came across a situation where a car hit a pole and smashed the drivers side at the A pillar, the steering column was destroyed and the car was still running, we could not access the key.

What are your thoughts and ideas on alternate ways to shut down a running vehicle?

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Some vehicles have a fuel shutoff under the passenger side of the dash. Obviously disconnecting the battery isn't going to shut off the car, but it also can't hurt. Honestly the only means of killing the engine would be to stop fuel from getting to the engine, no fuel, no power.
Very interesting question, hope someone has a better answer and/or has encountered this before.
Possibly crimp the fuel line with a pair of vise grips but other than that I'm at a loss. Great thread and I'm looking forward to hearing other solutions.
Dry chemical powder extinguisher in the air inlet if you can get to it....
Pull some fuses under the hood of the car. Those are usually the master ones to kill electronic ignition and fuel pumps etc... Or disconnect the wire going to it.
Pull the coil wire on older rigs, as well as disconect the alt wires and battery. On deisels we all know they dont run on spark so ya need to stop the fuel flow some how and in a safe manner. This is a good thread and am gona look at some of the many manuals I have for vehicals, and see if find a better solution then what I said or others.
All fires eventually go out. All bleeding eventually stops. All cars eventually run out of gas. Duh! What's the problem?

Seriously though, with cars being different from make to make, it might be a good idea to get with a local mechanic or car dealership to have a training class. They hopefully would know the safest way to shut the engine off. I know you can pull fuses or crimp fuel lines but there may be a safer (or easier) way. Also, with alternative fuel vehicles, what works on one may not work on another. That's why I'd check with an "expert."

Another thing to keep in mind is if the car might need to be moved to access another patient. Be careful that what you do won't render the car immovable.
Engines need electricity to run. Cut the negative battery cable and the engine will die.
If it is fuel injected remove the battery cable it will die. No power to the injector pump it will run out of gas.
First thing you always do is disconnect the battery, from the negative side.
> That may stop the engine on some of the newer models.
> On the older vehicles, you may be able to pull the distributor cable.
> On the newer models, you'll find the Engine Fusee Block, located under the hood, it'll resemble the fuse panel, but much beefier. Inside it'll contain, fusee's and Relays, you may need a small prying devise to disconnect them.
> On Diesels, there should be a device on the engine to close the Air Input, into the engine.
>
Engines are alot like fires. Two things to remember take the fuel away or take the oxygen away. The hard part is going to be doing it safely if the engine is still running and the hood can not be opened. Most any vehicle that is gas powered can be shut down by taking away the power at the battery. As one person already stated cut the negative cable and it should kill the engine. It was a good point to look at your situation and decide if you need power before doing this. Every vehicle will be different. Most diesels today are equipped with electronic modules to run the engine so taking power away generally will shut them down. If fuel is not accessible to be shut off stuff something in the intake to shut off air flow this will shut down anything but the hydrids. As I work on heavy machines for a living the hydrid thing is out of my area of knowledge. The suggestion to contact a local dealer would be a good idea in the case of hydrids.
Disconnecting the battery will certainly shut 'er down. No juice-no run, gas or diesel. Diesels have a solenoid that shuts off the fuel when it's deactivated. Disconnecting the alternator will still allow the vehicle to run, until the battery voltage has dropped below its nominal value. Race cars all have a battery quick disconnect within easy reach by track officials, clearly marked with a bright red sticker with a lightning bolt symbol.

Cutting the negative cable to the battery is about the quickest method.

I'd be really angry to find that my engine's internals were destroyed by the caustic cry chemical that an emergency worker shot into the intake. I've seen more than my share of engine compartment destruction caused by extinguishers and weren't promptly rinsed off.
On a MVA with passenger compartment intrusion the vehicle most likely is a total loss. Ruining the engine of the car ain't no big deal.

I remember some old training of throwing a blanket over the air intake. No O2, no fire.

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