Glass Management – An Eye to the Future

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Friday October 4, 2013

During a recent Holmatro Rescue Experience training event I delivered in Denmark, the car I demonstrated on was an Audi A8 4.2. This is a very high spec vehicle which includes laminated glass all round.

Traditionally most (but not all) cars have laminated windshields only, with the remainder of the glass being toughened (also called tempered). This is what we have become accustomed to when it comes to glass management, but things certainly are changing.

More laminated glass
In 2018 all vehicles produced in the USA will have laminated glass fitted all round. This serves 2 purposes:
- It improves security
- It prevents occupant ejection in the event of a collision

What does this mean to us?
Well it gives us distinct advantages and a disadvantage.

If we approach a vehicle and require rapid access, perhaps when there is a need to manage a casualty’s airway, we have the option of breaking toughened glass and entering the vehicle.

Managing toughened glass to gain entry rapidly

Laminated glass means that this access is more difficult as it requires cutting, prolonging our entry. On the plus side the presence of laminated glass means that there will not be any uncontrolled breakages on scene (like with toughened glass) so once stability is completed, space creation can commence. In addition to this, the ability to leave laminated glass in situ during the extrication process means that the casualty is protected from the environment, especially in extreme weather.

Laminated glass, when broken, remains in place. 

Toughened glass will break into small pieces.

Rescuer and casualty protection
Whatever type of glass we are managing, safety is critical and rescuers should ensure they have respiratory protection in place (e.g. dust mask). The casualty must also be protected by using a sheet, and the use of oxygen will reduce the effect of glass dust within the passenger compartment. Prior to managing glass we must give audible warnings to ensure that the medic is prepared and any noise has minimal effect on patient care.

Be prepared!
The number of vehicles with laminated glass in all positions can only increase in the future and rescuers must be prepared.

As usual I welcome your comments...

Ian

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