Cutting vehicles apart and putting them back together are the reasons for two events scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 21, on the Washburn Tech campus. At 1:45 p.m., dozens of local first responders will begin the hands-on portion of a training program called First Responders Emergency Extrication (FREE). Prior to that, at 1 p.m., Washburn Tech’s Recycled Rides program will give-away a refurbished vehicle to a local person in need. Both activities, held in and around Building K at 5724 SW Huntoon St., are in partnership with the National Auto Body Council (NABC).
FREE is a unique, hands-on program designed to help save critical seconds when extricating victims in accidents involving complex, late-model vehicles with sophisticated electronics and multiple airbag systems. In addition, the rapid onslaught of advancements in vehicle design, including high strength steels, passenger restraint systems and the growing popularity of high voltage hybrid vehicles, makes such training more important than ever.
Washburn Tech is the only educational institution in the nation this year to host one of 13 FREE exercises. State Farm Insurance is donating late-model vehicles that are being used in the training.
“This type of exercise usually takes place only at trade shows, so we are fortunate to be one of the hosting sites,” said Eric Showalter, instructor, Washburn Tech auto collision. “First responders welcome the opportunity to receive additional practice, especially on newer vehicles equipped with the most current systems.”
Prior to the FREE exercise, a Recycled Rides recipient will receive the keys to a refurbished 2009 Ford Focus donated by Geico Insurance. Washburn Tech’s Recycled Rides program partners auto students with instructors and professional mentors in the community to refurbish vehicles, which are awarded to individuals and families in need. Local businesses and individuals also donate parts and supplies to get the vehicles on the road again. This car becomes Washburn Tech’s 14th Recycled Ride.