Due to door override, the inward movement of the door as it passed over the rocker channel had in fact caught the driver's left foot in a pinching and crushing action.
When a vehicle is impacted on its side, responders will find crash damage to many components of the vehicle that was struck; fender, wheels, doors and the B-pillar for example. When the collision is what we typically call a true 'T-bone' and the hit is right into a door, there is a possibility that there will be door "override". This occurs when the collision causes the door and the rocker channel that runs along the bottom of the door to actually change their position relative to each other.
When door override occurs, the door collapses inward as the vehicle is struck. The bottom edge of the door fails inward, crushes over the rocker channel, and then comes to rest inside the vehicle. If the override is severe enough, the inner carpet may actually be visible beneath the bottom of the door while standing outside the vehicle.
The rescue challenge that presents itself with door override from a T-bone collision is patient entrapment along this door and rocker channel area. A perfect example of this rescue problem presented itself to McKinney, TX, responders arriving at a two-vehicle collision recently.
The driver of a two-door vehicle had been struck broadside by an SUV. When the McKinney personnel first made patient contact, the female complained of excruciating pain in her left foot. She had already climbed out of the vehicle under her own power prior to fire department arrival and was found seated beside her vehicle.
As fire department paramedics treated the patient in the back of the ambulance, the engine company members began their assessment and hazard control activities. It wasn't until the interior of the patient's vehicle was inspected by opening the passenger door that the reason for the patient's complaint of foot pain became evident. Responders found that due to door override, the inward movement of the door as it passed over the rocker channel had in fact caught the driver's left foot in a pinching and crushing action. She had been able to somehow pull her foot out of her shoe after the collision but the shoe, a loafer-type design, remained crushed between the dislodged door and the inside of the rocker channel.
Crash Course Teaching Point: There is an important rescue lesson to be learned with door override regardless of the fact that in this case, the patient's foot and leg was not trapped. But what will you do if at your next T-bone collision, you find that door override has in fact caught the patient. With a patient trapped by their foot or leg tangled by a crushed door, forcing open that jammed door gives a whole new meaning to the challenge of vehicle rescue. At your next extrication drill, practice your solution to how you'll beat the door override entrapment challenge. Now is the time to find out what your Plan A and your Plan B will be!
Be Informed...Be Ready...Beware!
RON MOORE, a Firehouse.com Contributing Editor, is a battalion chief/fire training officer for the McKinney, TX, Fire Department. He is the author of the University of Extrication series, featured each month in Firehouse Magazine and is the moderator of the University of Extrication interactive forums on Firehouse.com. In 1984, he received the International Society of Fire Service Instructors George D. Post Instructor of the Year award for development of the first school bus rescue training program in the United States. In 2000, Ron was awarded the International Association of Fire Chief's "Excellence in Rescue" award. You can reach Ron by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.