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PSU offers hybrid training for first responders

August 29, 2012 12:00AM

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Automotive Maintenance Supervisor Kurt Kasjaka services one of PSU's hybrid cars.

Drivers aren’t the only ones getting used to hybrid vehicles, so are first responders.

“It’s an entirely new way of thinking,” said Pittsburg Fire Chief Scott Crain. “When you’re talking about hybrid cars, you’re talking about high voltage. Our crews need to know how these electrical systems work in order to avoid coming into contact with the high voltage during rescue operations. It helps keep our victims and firefighters safe.”

As you might imagine, most firefighters don’t have detailed knowledge of hybrid propulsion systems, which is where Trent Lindbloom and his fellow automotive instructors at Pittsburg State University come into the story.

Thanks to a $150,000 hybrid grant from the National Science Foundation, Pittsburg State is able to offer hybrid training to all area first responders.

“These systems can be extremely complicated,” said Lindbloom, assistant professor of automotive technology. “And when you’re responding to an emergency situation, every second counts. We’re getting them out of the classroom and into the lab for hands-on training about battery location, wiring routes and how to properly disable high voltage.”

It’s this type of hands-on training that makes training at Pittsburg State so valuable for local first responders.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a college student or a firefighter, there’s really no substitute for hands-on experience,” said Chief Crain. “It’s great to have this type of training available in our city.”

The first training session for first responders was held on the PSU campus this week with future sessions planned for later this fall.

“We really had a good turnout,” said Lindbloom. “Our goal is to have them (first responders) go away with a better understanding of hybrid vehicles and feel more at ease when they approach these vehicles. It’s not often that automotive instructors get a chance to teach firefighters lifesaving skills, so we really feel fortunate to be able to offer this type of training.”

©2012 Pittsburg State University