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What Do You Call Minor, Moderate, and Major?

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  • What Do You Call Minor, Moderate, and Major?

    As responders arriving at a vehicle crash scene, we are sizing up the situation. In the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, one traditional aspect of the first-due officer's radio arrival report includes stating "Minor Damage", "Moderate Damage", or "Major Damage". It is supposed to indicate to units that are still responding whether this is a serious situation or not.

    I often questioned the value of this part of the radio report. I remember being told that you can't judge a book by its' cover and I think that holds true for crash-damaged vehicles as well.

    So, how would you classify the damage to this Toyota Camry; Minor, Moderate, or Major?

    "Engine 1 is on scene, Main Street and Market Street, I have one vehicle, _____________? damage, Engine 1 is establishing Main Street Command?
    Attached Files
    Ron Moore, Forum Moderator

  • #2
    Here is the passenger compartment view from the passenger's side...
    Attached Files
    Ron Moore, Forum Moderator


    • #3
      I would say moderate damage.

      Reason: the car is damaged to the point that it is not drivable hence not being minor. the passenger compartment is intake and not deformed hence it is not major damage.

      we use the same terms and here is my rational

      Minor- car is drivable, think fender bender
      Moderate- the car is damaged to the point it cannot be driven. the crumble zones have absorbed impact. the passenger compartment is basicly not damaged or deformed. The most extrication would be a door pop.
      Major- the passenger compartment is deformed and damaged. extrication is likely.

      these are just my thoughts we do not have a policy that defines these terms in my ddepartment.


      • #4
        I would call this "Moderate Damage". It appears that majority of the force was absorbed by the frontal crumple zones without intrusion into the occupant compartment. Looks worse than it actually is! If the occupants where properly restrained their injuries should actually be minimal. As RFD21C stated the vehicle is not driveable but beyond a door pop it would not require any significant tool work for this job.
        Attached Files


        • #5
          I dont use the description of the vehicle damage in my initial report, because I have had vehicles crushed to almost 1/2 their original size but the driver had climbed out through a window, and have had to cut the roof off of a vehicle to remove a patient with severe neck and back pain that only had minor bumper damage.

          I do describe 3 levels of tool work when it is required,

          1. Inconvenienced: This is a door pop, or removing a windshield of a car on its side to allow a patient who is standing to exit the vehicle.

          2. Trapped: Usually involves door removal and roof removal, and possibly dash displacement.

          3. Pinned: This is when removing significant amounts of the vehicle or foreign objects from around the patient is required.

          Not perfect by any means, but when the responding units hear these terms, they know if they are gonna go to work when they arrive or not.


          • #6
            I don't report damage. just the presence or not of injuries,confinement/entrapment, fluids down.
            I agree with Kap,on the medical side I have seen crushed cars and the occupant sitting on the guard rail with a bloody nose from the airbag, and have had fatal crashes with minor damage.
            Rescue Co. 1


            • #7
              I have to disagree with you here. I feel that you arrival report on any call should paint a picture of the scene to the incoming units. I when arriving onscene of a MVC I try to include the following on my arrival report.

              people in the car or not (are they trapped or just still in the car idk from the seat of the engine)

              Assignments are pre-asigned per policy. Any adjustments are made.

              Engine 1 onscene car into the woods on the right shoulder. Car is on its roof with major damage. 1 person appears to still be in the car. Engine 1 is assuming XYZ command.

              I follow that up with an update. After exiting the engine and seeing what i have

              # of pts and status
              trapped or not trapped
              more or less resources

              XYZ command to radio. We have 1 red and 2 green pts. 1 red pt trapped. Give me the extrication assignment and another medic.


              • #8
                RFD, if that works for you great, there are many around me that also go that in depth initially.

                I prefer to be brief and sometimes I will even delay my initial BIR and take the extra 20 seconds or so to actually investigate the scene and possibly cut down on needless radio traffic should the incident be minor in nature.

                It's just a personal thing but I have been in the rig when a status was given of " 1 vehicle in the ditch major damage with one still inside" and my driver got all jacked up and started wearing out the siren and air horn and I had to yell at him several times to calm the #&(* down. About 30 seconds later the report was that there was no entrapment and we were placed ready.

                Like I said, I dont feel that there is a right or wrong way for giving a status on an mvc cause I feel it will not ultimately make a big difference in the incident.


                • #9
                  Moderate. I know how much energy it took to make that bend. SOME of that energy WAS transmitted to the occupants. Major is when those bends extend beyond the dash or rear deck. In any event it's JUNK,so do what you need to. T.C.
                  Last edited by Rescue101; 09-26-2011, 12:26 PM.


                  • #10
                    It does not matter how much damage there is if no one is in it,injured, or even around.
                    Rescue Co. 1


                    • #11
                      I would also classify that as moderate, based solely on the two photos provided.

                      I also give a simple size up that includes the severity of the crash: "Engine 2's on scene with a 2-vehicle crash, moderate damage, we'll have the command." After investigating, I'll follow that up with... "Main Street command, we're evaluating one green and one yellow patient."
                      Career Fire Captain
                      Volunteer Chief Officer

                      Never taking for granted that I'm privileged enough to have the greatest job in the world!


                      • #12
                        It seems from the posts thus far, that we are becoming aware of the condition of the passenger compartment during our size-up, regardless of what you say or don't say in your radio report. I like that.

                        So, with that understood, has this collision resulted in Minor, Moderate, or Major according to your department?
                        Attached Files
                        Ron Moore, Forum Moderator


                        • #13
                          I would say major

                          Even though both of these pictures are both front end collisons and both cars are junk now. The amount of impact force is different

                          The things that i see that make this "major" damaged are:

                          On the front end you can see that the damage is past the crumble zone and actually has displaced the engine back. the uni-body has been pushed back not just fenders, hoods, etc.

                          The front tires and suspension have been bent sideways. The amount of force that is required to bend suspension parts is pretty great.

                          Moving back you can see where the engine has displaced the dash backwards into the passenger compartment.

                          The A post is bent which is one of the strongest parts of the passenger compartment. this force has also caused the roof to buckle.

                          The rocker panel below the front door has buckled which is why the car looks to be "leaning" forward.

                          The door has been pushed back a fair amount. This is more the which would be caused by a fender or other non-structural damage. This type of damage can only be caused by movement of the A post and rocker panels and or other structural members.

                          Finally we can see the steering wheel is bent and deformed. Which is not as a result of the inital crash but from the secondary crash of the victims within the passenger compartment.

                          All of these clues would cause me to call this major damage.

                          Extrication wise I would suspect that the whole package may be required.

                          possibly dash lift, cutting or disentangling the pt from the pedals or other under dash parts.


                          • #14
                            I would call the second vehicle "Major Damage", frontal impact with significant intrusion into the passenger compartment in the driver's position. The impact forces where obviously beyond the limits of the frontal collision protection built into that specific vehicle and where then transferred into the passenger compartment. Even with airbag deployment and utilization of SRS the frontal occupants (primarily the driver) could have sustained moderate to severe injuries due to the forces that where applied to the front of the vehicle. One would expect lower extremity entrappment requiring moderate tool work such as a sidewall removal along with jacking or rolling the dash to extricate the driver.


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