INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Dec. 1, 2015)– Electric cars may be a quieter and cleaner form of transportation around the city, but Indianapolis firefighters know they are just as prone to accidents as gas-powered vehicles with some potentially electrifying threats for unprepared first responders.
Blue Indy, the electric-car sharing service, has 90 vehicles on the streets of Indianapolis and expects to add another 400 by the end of 2016. As a result, its technicians are teaching city firefighters how to respond to crashes involving the electric cars and how to handle the incidents with care.
“Some important things we’re going to go over with you guys this morning is to how to safely de-energize the 450 volt battery so in case of an accident you can guys can do what you guys do,” said Blue Indy Maintenance Manager Ed Searcy as he addressed an IFD crew huddled around one of the electric cars at a charging station on North Meridian Street. “The reason we want the 12 volt battery disconnected…if there’s a way to cut it…cut it…is because if you start cutting the car and you haven’t disconnected the 12 volt battery there’s a good chance you’re going to start popping airbags.”
Searcy explained the firefighters would need to don a special set of $170 rubber gloves to disconnect the main power source, a 600 pound battery underneath the car, before diving under the hood in anticipation of treating injured passengers.
“It is a two-step process de-energizing the high voltage battery and then taking off the negative cable from the car. That way we make sure everything is de-energized,” said Searcy. “The battery has the technology where in an accident if the battery detects any short to ground, there are four sections in the battery monitoring this, if there is any short to ground, its going to kill the power to the high voltage battery. If the airbags are deployed, its going to kill the power to the high voltage battery.”
Soon Blue Indy cars will be as commonplace as cabs and commercial vehicles on Indianapolis streets as General Manager Scott Prince explained the French-based company’s expansion plans.
“We’re building up to 200 stations across the county and each station will have five parking spots,” he said. “We’re talking to a lot of locations that will require a private lease– malls, health care centers, schools, universities.”
Prince said the system expects to be located at Indianapolis International Airport by the end of January.
Indianapolis is Blue Indy’s only North American Location, and while sites are expected to open in California next year, Prince said the company expects to keep prices low locally to entice other cities to follow the Blue Indy model.