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OnStar, GM will give Volt first responder training

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OnStar, GM will give Volt first responder training

Paramedics, cops to learn how to deal with emergencies

Robert Snell / The Detroit News

General Motors Co. and OnStar are tackling a key safety concern ahead of the launch of the Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric car by training paramedics, cops and firefighters on how to respond to crashes and emergencies involving electric vehicles.

Electric cars, particularly the Volt, will rely on lithium-ion batteries and require different responses in emergencies as the vehicles are forecast to proliferate in coming years.

First-responders will be taught how to shut off electricity to the vehicle in a crash or emergency, how best to cut through high-strength steel used in the Volt and the best way to extract a passenger in the event of a crash.

The training is part of a pre-launch push by GM to prepare the public for the Volt, which hits showrooms late this year.

"We believe a first responder educational program is a needed step toward helping this very important group of life-savers understand electric vehicles in the event of a crash or other emergency," Carmen Benavides, director, Chevrolet Safety said in a prepared statement.

The training will start in August in Chicago and sessions also will be held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Detroit and Washington, D.C., all major cities where the Volt will be sold late this year.

GM plans to produce about 8,000 Volts for the 2011 model year before eventually expanding to as many as 60,000.

"Technological changes in the automotive industry require change in fire and emergency service operations as well," said Chief Jack Parow, first vice president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

The Volt will let commuters travel up to 40 miles on electric power.

The engine kicks in after its battery is drained by about 70 percent to sustain the battery's remaining charge to keep the car running for several hundred miles.

Nissan Motor Co., Chrysler Group LLC and Toyota Motor Corp. all plan to bring electric vehicles to market.

Nissan plans to unveil its fully electric Leaf with a range of 100 miles in December.

Chevrolet officials have been collaborating with national safety organizations to develop educational materials that can be shared with firefighters, police officers and dispatchers nationwide.

The materials will be available on a private website.

There have been concerns among advocates for the blind that electric and hybrid vehicles pose risks to pedestrians and others because the cars are nearly silent in some cases.

Automakers and those advocates last month reached an agreement that would require the companies to equip so-called "quiet cars" with chirps or other sounds to alert pedestrians and bikers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xn_Qtll4ruU&playnext_from=TL&videos=XwRZF_uInKQ&feature=sub

From The Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/20100602/AUTO01/6020335/1148/auto01/OnStar--GM-will-give-Volt-first-responder-training#ixzz0phQO5Crm

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