West Virginia University’s National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC) has developed a smartphone app and full training programs for emergency responders being called to help with highway accidents involving specific electric drive and alternative fuel vehicles.

“Because more consumers are choosing electric drive or alternative fuel vehicles, first responders must understand the differences between these and conventional, gasoline-powered vehicles,” said NAFTC Acting Director Bill Davis. “Electric drive and alternative fuel vehicles are as safe as conventional vehicles, but they are different. The First Responder Safety Training provides first responders with important information to enhance their understanding of those differences.”

The NAFTC developed the smart phone app – known in the App Stores as “QRG,” which stands for quick reference guide – for first responders who need to access information about electric drive and alternative fuel vehicles at accident scenes. The app contains information on electric drive vehicles such as hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery, and fuel cell electric vehicles as well as vehicles powered by alternative fuels such as biodesel, ethanol, natural gas, propane, and hydrogen.

QRG screencapture of a diagram

QRG screencapture of a diagram

Davis said the QRG app, which is free, provides detailed, vehicle-specific information including identification mechanisms, disconnect procedures, and other special concerns.

A hard copy version of the QRG also is available as a durable flipbook for emergency personnel to use at the scene of an accident. It details various makes and models of electric drive and alternative fuel vehicles, alerting first responders to such items as high-voltage cables and cut zones. This version of the QRG is available for a nominal cost.

The app is available for the iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. In addition to the app, the NAFTC also produces First Responder Safety Training, curricula developed under two NAFTC grants – the Clean Cities Learning Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Clean Cities Program, and the Advanced Electric Drive Vehicle Education Program, funded by the U.S. DOE as an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act project..

NAFTC experts are presenting safety training workshops in addition to “train-the-trainer” events that seek to spread education about electric drive and alternative fuel vehicles.

The First Responder Safety Training targets firefighters, law enforcement officers, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, and hazardous response officials. The training covers modules on Electric Drive Vehicles, Biofuels and Biofuel Vehicles, Gaseous Fuels and Gaseous Fuel Vehicles and Hydrogen and Hydrogen-Powered Vehicles. The suite of products includes instructor manuals, participant booklets, and the quick reference guide. An online course for electric drive vehicles is also available.

More training sessions are planned for various locations throughout the nation. For more information on the NAFTC’s safety training and suite of products, visit www.afvsafetytraining.com.