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Oneida County first responders train for fires and crashes involving electric vehicles

Oneida County first responders learn how to deal with electric vehicles in the event of a crash or fire.
Katie Thoresen
Oneida County first responders learn how to deal with electric vehicles in the event of a crash or fire.

Right now, electric vehicles make up about 14% of all vehicle sales globally. That’s projected to more than double by 2030.

As more EV’s hit the road, first responders need to know how to react to accidents and fires for those vehicles.

Nathan Bates with the Rhinelander Fire Department hasn’t had to respond to an electric vehicle fire. Though he’s now feeling more confident if he does.

“Whether it's an electric vehicle, a gas vehicle, the biggest thing is we're prepared for it. That's why we had this awesome training today that they hosted,” said Bates.

Rhinelander GM and Wisconsin Chevy Dealers sponsored EVsafe Training at the Rhinelander Fire Department Wednesday.

“This opportunity was brought up when we got together all of the Chevy dealers and said, ‘How can we educate a larger group in the knowledge of EVs and the safety behind EVs?’ We thought, what better than a program that's already out there, this trainer was a perfect fit to come up here and train everyone,” said Tarsie Goes, Rhinelander GM’s Marketing Coordinator.

To be clear, Electric Vehicle fires are relatively rare.

EV’s have about a .3% likelihood to ignite. Whereas gas-powered vehicles have around 1.05% likelihood.

Still, EVs have other risks for responders like electric shock and toxic gases from the high-voltage lithium-ion batteries.

The vehicles are also built differently than gas-powered cars and trucks.

Part of the training focused on how to cut into vehicles and safely get people out in the event of a crash.

“It's a major concern. Based off the different things for extrication on vehicles like this, it can be very dangerous for us. It was good to go over and have a good review of it today, the different points for extrication and the different hazards and you know how to kind of handle them,” said Bates.

Rhinelander GM brought in EVs for people in the training to get familiarized with.

The training was open to local first responders and two truck drivers.

Wisconsin Chevy Dealers are hosting two more of these trainings with EVsafe Thursday and Friday in Wisconsin Rapids and Stevens Point.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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