NAFTC prepares first responders for alternative fuel vehicle emergencies

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June 6, 2011 by Judy Moore, National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium

Emergency personnel listen to instruction during a First Responder Safety Training workshop at Yuba College, an NAFTC national training center. Photo credit: NAFTC

Morgantown, W.Va.– The number of alternative fuel and electric drive vehicles on America’s highways is increasing rapidly. Because this new breed of vehicle presents a whole new set of challenges when they are involved in accidents, there is a great need for emergency first responders who are uniquely trained to respond when tragedy strikes.

The National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium based at West Virginia University‘s National Research Center for Coal and Energy is helping first responders across the nation acquire skills and knowledge they need when called to the scene of accidents involving alternative fuel and electric drive cars.

“Alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles are the future of transportation,” NAFTC Executive Director Al Ebron said.

“These next generation vehicles will reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil and help keep our air clean. But, because alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles are becoming more prevalent and will continue to increase in popularity, first responders must understand the differences between these cars and trucks and conventional, gasoline-powered vehicles. Our program provides a proactive approach to keeping emergency personnel and the citizens they serve safe.

With support from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program, NAFTC developed a new set of training materials presented in a workshop format that raises awareness about alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies.

Ebron explained that the training package, known as “The First Responder Safety Training,” consists of four modules: biofuels and biofuel vehicles; gaseous fuels and gaseous fuel vehicles; hydrogen and hydrogen-powered vehicles; and electric drive vehicles.

One of the first presentations of the new program designed to raise awareness about alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies will occur June 13-14 at the College of the Desert in Palm Desert, Calif. First responders, instructors from various colleges, Clean Cities Coordinators and a range of technicians will be participating in a First Responder Safety Train- the-Trainer two-day workshop at the college.

NAFTC will conduct the training session, which is co-hosted by the Clean Cities Coachella Valley Region.The two-day workshop will teach instructors how to deliver their own two-day first responder training that educates emergency personnel about alternative fuel vehicles and how to respond to an accident scene, especially when extrication of victims from a vehicle is involved.

The First Responder Safety Training’s target audiences are firefighters, law enforcement officers, paramedics, emergency medical technicians and hazardous response officials.

Along with extensive classroom instruction, the training will include the opportunity to become familiar with the various types of electric drive and alternative fuel vehicles such as the Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf, Honda Clarity and a propane vehicle provided by Roush.

Participants will also have a variety of hands-on training demonstrations such as exploding an airbag, viewing fires with geothermal imaging cameras and much more.

Additional information on the Clean Cities Learning Program First Responder Safety Training can be found at

Clean Cities Learning Program, the NAFTC has been increasing availability and awareness of alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles while training Clean Cities coordinators, technicians, first responders and instructors,” Ebron added.

For more information about First Responder Safety Training, contact Judy Moore at (304) 293-7882, or


About the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium

The National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium based at West Virginia University is the only nationwide alternative fuel vehicle and advanced technology vehicle training organization in the U.S. The NAFTC’s mission is to provide the training infrastructure for implementing the widespread use of alternative fuels, alternative fuel vehicles and advanced technology vehicles.

The effort to increase our nation’s energy security, as well as improve air quality by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, is embodied in the NAFTC’s motto “Because Clean Air and Energy Independence Matter.” Founded in 1992, the NAFTC consists of National Training Centers located nationwide from Maine to California.

Each center provides Training with Impact through its experienced instructors and real-world shop facilities. Numerous other members from secondary schools, small businesses, government and industry also support the NAFTC’s mission. More than 1,100 courses have been conducted by the NAFTC, resulting in more than 16,500 trained technicians in AFVs and advanced technology vehicles.

About the Clean Cities Learning Program

The Clean Cities Learning Program is a project funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy Clean Cities Program. Developed by the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium and its partners, the Clean Cities Learning Program will raise awareness and foster a greater understanding of alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles.

This effort will provide Clean Cities Coalitions and other stakeholders with state-of-the art curricula and training, education and outreach materials and a concentrated marketing and communications plan. One of the most unique aspects of this project is the focus on developing a nationwide partnership between U.S. DOE Clean Cities Coalitions and NAFTC National Training Centers.

This partnership will provide target audiences with awareness and technical education that encourage decisions to adopt vehicles and fuels that will significantly reduce the consumption of petroleum-based fuels.


The NAFTC is a program of the National Research Center for Coal and Energy at West Virginia University.