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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My mother gave me a call and got really worried about the potential of an accident and an EMT not being able to get into the car in time to save the passengers. Basically, she heard that since hybrids also use electric motors, there is more of a chance of an emergency responder to get electricuted or not be able to access a damaged vehicle. I found a message board topic about this:

Has anyone had any trouble with this if they've been in accidents? Or, is there any further information about this that I can send to my mother to give her peace of mind?

425 Posts
Contact Toyota and ask for a copy of the Emergency response leflet. Maybe your loacal dealer will have one, or download it from Toyotas publications site.

Premium Member
2,815 Posts
Toyota already publishes Emergency Response Guides for the Prius,
available for a nominal fee in print form, or a free download here:

(2001-2003 Prius here: )

(2004 Prius here: )

Toyota Regions have also been known to do training seminars for local
first responders when asked. I think I've heard of Honda doing the

Honda Hybrids: ... X28935.pdf

Ford Escape Hybrid:
http://www.fordtechservice.dealerconnec ... escape.pdf
or from: ... escape.pdf

Some more information for emergency responders can be found here: ... 011822061/

(Note, if you are a first responder, contact your local dealership (will
probably pass you onto the regional center). The manufacturers quite
often hold training seminars on hybrid safety, if you're concerned.)

Toyota also published this press release after an erroneous AP story
got circulated around. ... =20040504a
Toyota Corrects Erroneous Story About Emergency Workers and Hybrid


05/04/2004 Torrance, CA

The Toyota Prius gas-electric hybrid vehicle has many safeguards to
help ensure safe operation for drivers and protection of emergency
response professionals in the event of an accident.

An Associated Press article and other reports indicated that emergency
workers who cut through the doors of a hybrid vehicle may receive an
electric shock.

That information is not correct. The power cables carrying electric
current are automatically shut down in the case of an accident.
Furthermore, power cables are not located near the doors of the
vehicle - they are located well outside of any area likely to be
accessed by emergency crews.

"We have worked very closely with experienced safety crews to identify
how best to ensure the safety of everyone involved," said Dave
Zellers, Toyota vice president of quality and service support. "The
fact is that Prius hybrids have been on U.S. roads for five years and
we're not aware of any personal injury in the U.S. related to hybrid
or EV electrical systems."

The high voltage batteries are contained in an extremely strong
protective case located in a portion of the vehicle very unlikely to
be penetrated in a collision. Drivetrain management computers
continuously monitor all system functions performing hundreds of tests
each minute. In the event an abnormal condition is detected, all high
voltage circuits are disabled and high voltage is contained inside the
protective case.

Further, two safety mechanisms are in place that shut off the engine
and disconnect high voltage if an airbag is deployed or if there is a
sudden deceleration indicative of an accident. High voltage cables and
components are heavily insulated, shielded, isolated and the cables
are painted bright orange for easy identification. The controller box
is a sealed unit and has warning labels.

To reassure emergency response professionals when the Prius was
introduced in 2000, Toyota placed advertisements in trade publications
and sent letters to industry organizations announcing the availability
and dissemination of Emergency Response Guides. Today, all Emergency
Response Guides for Toyota's alternative fuel vehicles, including
Prius, RAV 4 EV, CNG Camry and Highlander Fuel Cell Hybrid are
available at Toyota's technical information web site and Toyota
continues to advertise in appropriate professional publications.

"The Toyota Prius and its hybrid technology is truly an advancement in
the automotive world and sometimes people are afraid when they are
unfamiliar or receive false information," said Zellers. "As consumers
recognize the advantages of hybrid-powered vehicles in terms of fuel
mileage, cleaner emissions and a normal driving experience, the public
as a whole will become very confident in the safety of these


Unfortunately, the AP retraction article wasn't picked up by all the
outlets that reported the original story, and the AP doesn't keep their
reports after a certain number of days free to the public, so here's the text of it:

"Posted on Fri, May. 07, 2004
Correction: Hybrid Car Rescues story
Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA - In May 3 and May 4 stories about hybrid cars,
The Associated Press reported erroneously that the cables connecting the
high-voltage batteries to the electric motors run through the doors. The cables run underneath the car.

In the Toyota Prius, the cables are routed below the floorpan, about
18 inches away from the driver's side door opening sills and are
protected by a metal shroud. Toyota said the company has received no
reports in the United States of any personal injuries related to the
electrical systems in the five years since the Prius was introduced."

here's also this article from Canadian : ... 24028&pg=1
May 7, 2004
Are Hybrid Vehicles Truly Dangerous to Emergency Workers? No Says Toyota
by Trevor Hofmann , Canadian Auto Press

Considering that most cars have this highly flammable/explosive stuff called gasoline (which is less likely to spill in an accident in a North American Prius, thanks to the bladder fuel tank on the inside of the traditional metal tank, and many new cars have these explosive charges planted around them that aren't well marked and have sensors in a different place in each car (lovely things called air bags), there's already plenty for an emergency responder to worry about, that isn't as nicely marked as the bright orange cables in a hybrid.
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