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Local First Responders Learn New Rescue Skills through National Auto Body Council®First Responder Emergency Extrication (F.R.E.E.™) Program

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September 10, 2020 | ILLINOIS PROVIDED, Correspondent
This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.

Crestwood, IL -- In crashes where minutes can spell the difference between life and death, first responders to the accident scene need up-to-date information so they can act quickly and safely! Knowing specifically where and how to efficiently cut and extricate can make the difference in saving precious minutes and lives as well as the safety of the first responders.

Keeping first responders up to date on the latest new technology in vehicles is a challenge for every local fire department. The National Auto Body Council F.R.E.E.™ program keeps first responders abreast of the rapid changes in vehicle design. High-strength steel, airbags, advanced restraint systems, onboard technology and safety around alternative fuel vehicles are all covered in the program.

Crash Champions Collision Repair at 14330 S. Cicero Ave, Crestwood, IL hosted first responders from Crestwood, Midlothian and surrounding communities at a special NABC F.R.E.E.™ education and guidance program on September 10, 2020 to help ensure drivers have the best prepared response in case of an accident. The vehicles were donated by Allstate Insurance and the educational program and extrication demonstration was led by Genesis Rescue Systems. The hybrid/electric vehicle was provided by by Zeigler Infiniti of Orland Park.

“With the complexity of today’s cars, advanced safety systems and hybrid/electric vehicles, first responders face a challenge when they get to an accident scene of knowing how to safety extricate the passengers from that specific make and model,” said Natalie Zajc, vice president of marketing for Crash Champions Collision Repair. “Working with our partners at Allstate to provide late-model vehicles and Genesis to lead the training, we’re able to provide them an opportunity to practice their cutting and extrication techniques. As a proud member of the Chicago community, we want to do our part to help give back and make our streets safer.”

The growing popularity of high-voltage hybrid and electric vehicles and the many safety “concerns surrounding these vehicles makes this program a necessity. Alternative fuel systems present different challenges when first responders arrive at the scene of an accident. Electric cars, hybrid cars and natural gas vehicles have fuel systems that pose dangers for first responders if need arises to “cut” the vehicle for rescue.

“Education programs like the NABC F.R.E.E.™ program and the support of Crash Champions, Allstate and Genesis are critical to our ability to serve Chicago’s drivers,” said Tom Styczynski, Chief of the Alsip Fire Department. “We don’t get to train on these types of vehicles very often. Knowing where to cut a vehicle, avoiding activating an air bag and working around high-voltage electrical systems and batteries all save time in rescuing the accident victims. This gets the passengers to medical attention more quickly and helps protect our rescue crews on the job.”

The National Auto Body Council®, celebrating its’ 25thanniversary in 2020, is the premier organization of collision industry partners dedicated to strategic networking opportunities that positively change lives in the communities we serve. The collaborative membership of the National Auto Body Council® has gifted more than 2,500 vehicles, provided extrication opportunities for more than 3,800 First Responders and contributed to thousands of distracted driving pledges in communities through NABC Recycled Rides®, NABC First Responder Emergency Extrication (F.R.E.E.™) and the NABC Distracted Driving Initiative™. That effort equates to a 4:1 ROI in dollar value delivered from NABC™ membership dollars. The National Auto Body Council® is changing the paradigm of how the collision industry works and is viewed. For more information, visit

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