Silent Running – Not Just for Hybrids Anymore!

mercedes eco button

On a recent vacation my rental car (non– hybrid) had an interesting feature, an “ECO” start/stop option on the dash. This feature is being seen in at least two 2014 non-hybrid models (Mercedes S350 & Chevy Malibu).  You can find more information on the Mercedes Eco Start/Stop function here.

This option switches the engine off when the vehicle comes to a standstill, for example at traffic lights, much like a hybrid to improve fuel economy. As soon as the driver’s foot comes off of the brake pedal and the gas pedal is pressed, the engine then immediately starts again while all other vehicle functions continued to operate during the silent running stop phase.  This could cause unexpected car movement.

Because unexpected car movement during extrication can be dangerous and cause injuries to the patient or rescuer if the car is not properly secured, standard operating procedures for initial onsite preparation should be expanded to a single set of procedure instead of separate hybrid procedures.

For years, we have circulated a list of “7 emergency responders procedures for hybrid” as a good S.O.P. when dealing with hybrid vehicles. Now, with silent running expanding beyond hybrid models, WC Fire & Rescue now recommends the simplified model below for use on ALL vehicles, hybrid, gas or electric.

“The 5 Universal Emergency Responder Procedures for Pre-Extrication.”

1. Stabilize the vehicle: This includes immobilize. Remember that either hybrid or non-hybrids could be in “sleeper mode” and if the gas pedal is pressed then the vehicle can leach forward without any warning.

2. Access passenger compartment: You must be able to reach to gear shift and or ignition.

3. Shift gear select / parking brake: Put the car in park and set the parking brake, to stop the vehicle from accidently moving.

4. Turn ignition off -You may see an “OFF” button on the dash or remove the key. Be aware of “Smart Keys” with ranges is up to 16 feet. Most have a deactivating switch under the steering column.

5. Check that the dash indicator lights go out: If the vehicle is truly shut off, these will not be illuminated.