Officers, firefighters learn risks of new vehicles in Bernards.
Kara L. Richardson - Courier News - Nov. 3, 2006
Saturn VUE Greenline - first responder guidelines on what not to do
BERNARDS - Police officers and volunteer firefighters learned Friday to identify, disable and handle hybrid vehicles after a crash.
Lexus of Bridgewater general manager Ron Joffe hoisted a Lexus RX 400h - the hybrid sports utility vehicle - in the Bernards public works garage and pointed out areas - marked in bright orange - where emergency responders shouldn't touch.
Since hybrid vehicles use an electrical system to propel the vehicle with less gasoline, Joffe said, emergency responders should learn how the high-voltage systems work and how to stay safe. Joffe said the Bernards Police Department was the first Somerset County law enforcement agency to take Joffe's training.
In most cases, Joffe said, an emergency responder should proceed as if it were any other vehicle. The concern is whether the electrical system has been compromised in a crash. If it has, emergency responders run the risk of getting shocked.
The group included Bernards police; Liberty Corner, Pottersville and Far Hills fire companies; and Bernards and Bedminster public works departments.
Joffe gave the following warnings:
- Never assume a hybrid vehicle is off just because it is silent.
- Check the dashboard lights. If they are out, or if a warning light is on, wait for a professional who can disable the electrical system.
- Recognize high-voltage wires, which are orange.
Bernards police Capt. Brian Bobowicz said he couldn't recall any recent wrecks involving a hybrid in the township.
Still, Lt. Edward Reese, who heads the department's patrol division, said the training was "important because every year there are more and more hybrids on the road."
Jim Appleton, president of New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers, said there are several thousand hybrids in New Jersey. He said hybrids account for less than 5 percent of the state's new car market, which averages about 500,000 vehicles each year. A few years ago, Appleton said, hybrids were less than 1 percent of the new car market.