As you begin your fire service career, you'll learn about vehicle rescue during your probationary training as well as during continuing education drills that your new department conducts. As part of that training, you'll learn about how vehicle airbags influence what we find as fire and medical responders when called to a vehicle collision.
To better prepare yourself, take this challenge. Next time you're near a Mercedes new car dealership and you have some time, stop in and visit with the salesperson. Tell them you want to see their "top-of-the-line" vehicles so you can see all the safety features that it has. You are particularly interested in airbags although there are a lot of other safety systems and components that your vehicle rescue instructor will be telling you about. Let's stick with airbags for now.
Look to find the driver's front airbag and the passenger's front airbag. Both are mandatory in every vehicle now.
Next, begin looking for side impact airbags. These airbags can be found in the seats — particularly the front seats — the doors, and also along the roof rail above the doors.
After you've found them, look for "knee" bags. They will be located in blowout panels mounted into the front instrument panel. They deploy in a front collision and press the occupants back in their seats as the main frontal airbags deploy.
If the dealership has an M-class vehicle on the lot, something like an ML-320, you'll find a total of 10 airbags if you're a good enough researcher.
For further information on airbags and vehicle rescue practices and procedures, check out the archived University of Extrication articles, training programs, and downloads available through the www.firehouse.com/extrication website.