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New tech arrives in Utah to help first responders

By Ashley Kewish | Posted - Jun 27th, 2014 @ 10:22pm

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SALT LAKE CITY — A new tool has been developed to help first responders at accident scenes, and the technology was installed in some Utah cars Friday.

On any given day, thousands of cars travel Utah's roadways, and not all make it to their destinations safely.

That's where first responders come in, offering support in times of need. With serious car accidents, often they're left with the task of getting motorists out of mangled vehicles.

"There's a lot of studying involved in firefighting and vehicle extrication and all the other things that we do," said Chad Jepperson, a Salt Lake City fire captain.

Even with all their experience and training, the threat of injury is real.

"We get a lot of cuts and bruises and sprains," Jepperson said. "That happens a lot."

Seeing a need to improve their safety, Mercedes developed Rescue Assist.

"It brings up critical information on the vehicles' safety systems," said Joel Turner of Mercedes in Salt Lake City.

It works when a QR code sticker is placed in the vehicle's door jam and fuel cover. First responders can scan the code using any smartphone or tablet.

"It pulls up a diagram of the vehicle," said Turner. "The green (indicates) the battery and the fuel tanks."

Rescue Assist also shows where the airbags are located and if they're still intact.

"The crash already happened," Jepperson said. "Sometimes airbags have deployed or they haven't. It's potentially a punch in the face, which can be quite damaging."

Most fire departments, including Salt Lake's, are outfitted with tools that enable them to read the QR codes. Right now, the technology is only available on Mercedes models from 1990 and newer, yet it shows automakers and technology evolving toward a higher safety standard.

"I think you'll see all auto manufacturers follow with this," Turner said.


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