First responders from Anaheim Fire & Rescue practice extrication drills at the NACE/CARS Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center on a late-model Mazda donated by State Farm as part of the National Auto Body Council’s First Responder Emergency Extrication (FREE) program.Anaheim Fire & Rescue Capt. George Rangel (left), Engineer Brian Pennock and Firefighter Jason Buchanan remove the door from a late-model Nissan Altima during the extrication drill put on by NABC.  The firefighters used heavy-duty spreaders, cutters, and axes from tool partner Holmatro to dismantle and remove the roof, hood, doors, and cut an opening through the windshield.

Anaheim Fire & Rescue team demos life-saving auto extraction techniques

Anaheim, Calif.—A team of first responders from Anaheim Fire & Rescue cut up four late model vehicles, donated by State Farm, in front of a live audience at the NACE/CARS Expo & Conference, held recently at the Anaheim Convention Center.

The drills were part of a training program called First Responder Emergency Extrication (FREE), provided by the National Auto Body Council (NABC).

The hands-on program is designed to help save critical seconds when extricating victims in accidents involving complex, late model vehicles, Anaheim Fire & Rescue Deputy Chief Jeff Alario said.

“Today’s vehicles make it safer for passengers but first responders often face challenges in preventing further injuries to accident victims or themselves due to the complexities of new technology,” he said.

Those technologies can create challenges for first responders when extricating people from a wreck, Sgt. Daron Wyatt, public information officer for Anaheim Fire & Rescue, added.

“For example, cutting into the wrong section of a car could inadvertently deploy the airbag,” he said, “injuring the rescuer or a victim in the vehicle.”

With advancements in vehicle technology, including high strength steels, sophisticated electronics, and multiple airbag systems, Alario said knowing where and how to efficiently cut and extricate can make the difference in saving lives.  

“Our members are body shops, insurance companies, and tow companies,” Kim Kimbriel, public relations and marketing director for the NABC, said. “With a lot of these late-model cars, the folks in the industry know the technology. A lot of times first responders don’t have late-model cars to practice on.”

“Understanding the latest technologies helps first responders perform their duties safely,” said Elizabeth Clark, Property & Casualty Claims program manager at State Farm and a vice chair of the NABC.

NABC members host FREE programs across the country throughout the year at no cost as a community service. Extrication tools and instruction are provided in partnership with Holmatro Rescue Equipment.

For more information, contact the NABC at 1-888-667-7433 or at


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