Electric cars introduce new potential hazards in an accident

FILE - In this March 23, 2018, file photo provided by KTVU, emergency personnel work a the scene where a Tesla electric SUV crashed into a barrier on U.S. Highway 101 in Mountain View, Calif. The Apple engineer who died when his Tesla Model X crashed into the concrete barrier complained before his death that the SUV's Autopilot system would malfunction in the area where the crash happened. The driver of another Tesla involved in a fatal crash that California highway authorities said may have been on operating on Autopilot posted social media videos of himself riding in the vehicle without his hands on the wheel or foot on the pedal. The May 5, 2021, crash in Fontana, a city 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Los Angeles, is also under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The probe is the 29th case involving a Tesla that the federal agency has probed. (KTVU-TV via AP, File)

When an auto accident occurs, whether big or small and with or without injuries, it can take several people and agencies to deal with everything from redirecting traffic to dealing with the injured and cleaning up the mess.

In a perfect world, those responding are well-trained professionals who know how to handle situations such as chemical spills from the vehicles and vehicles so damaged they have to be towed. The lithium-ion batteries in electric cars have introduced a new potential danger that police and fire departments, as well as towing and wrecker services, are just now beginning to grapple with, according to Chattanooga Police Department Beer & Wrecker Officer John Collins.

"This is something brand new that I wasn't even aware of a month ago," Collins told the Chattanooga Beer & Wrecker Board during its July 1 meeting.