Hybrid Poses Hidden Dangers for Rescuers

Lynchburg, VA - Electric vehicles may be more energy efficient, but there's a hidden danger that's posing a new risk for first responders: electrocution.

"We could have a danger of a fire. We could have a danger of electrocution. We could have a danger of airbags accidentally deploying," explained Chief Robert Lipscomb with the Lynchburg Fire Department.

Lipscomb says when dealing with an electric vehicle, the first priority is to make sure its power supply is shut off.

He says the technical rescue team, is trained to deal with hybrid and electric vehicles differently.

Where we're gonna really run into the problems with an electric vehicle is if we start cutting into them and start extrications," Lipscomb explained.

Automakers have made training videos, a cheat sheet for first responders, to identify the locations of high voltage components.

One recently made by TESLA Motors shows how they can be disabled.

In addition to training, Chief Lipscomb says Lynchburg firefighters also use an iPad app called extricate.

"The application is designed specifically for hybrid vehicles," Lipscomb explained.

It's basically a road map of potential danger zones based on the car's make and model.

Nearly 500,000 electric and hybrid vehicles were sold in the United States last year, up 53 percent from a year before.

First responders say that makes this kind of training crucial.

"As new technology comes out there's new things that we have to be aware of," added Lipscomb.