Ambulance trucks, vans, and SUVs rush to the scenes of accidents, incidents of illness, rescues, hospitals, and more, day in and day out, 365 days a year. The drivers and attendants in those vehicles, however, sometimes don’t make it to the scene. They end up arriving at the hospital for something other than their initial reason for dispatch – their own treatment.
Every year, accidents involving ambulances are estimated at around 6500. To the occupant or occupants involved, fatality or injury has resulted in over 35% of those accidents. Last year, 33 fatalities were experienced as a result of 29 fatal motor vehicle collisions involving ambulances. Those numbers are far too high!
But what can we do? Let’s take a look at some areas of concern and what might be done to increase EMS safety.
Procedures and Training
Ambulance safety requires a planned out, thoughtful strategy. It doesn’t just occur. With re-education and training, the reduction of injuries and accidents should be the fundamental goal of every EMS division and company. Behind the wheel testing and training, sufficient classroom time, etc. should all be part of a well-designed training program. Refreshers should be required as well as medical exams for physical fitness.
The Visibility of Vehicles
Key safety components where EMS vehicles are concerned are recognition and apparatus visibility. Not only must drivers and pedestrians see the vehicle, they must recognize it as an emergency vehicle. Factors that have been found to directly relate to the visibility of vehicles are environmental conditions, motorist distractions, active emergency warning systems, marker lights, conspicuity markings, color scheme, vehicle size, etc. The front, side, and rear of EMS vehicles must be recognizable and highly visible.
Devices For Sufficient Warning
Warning devices on emergency vehicles consist of emergency lighting, bright scene lights, lighting packages, audible warning devices, reflective tape, and loud sirens/horns. Studies are being done, and have been done in the past, to determine the effectivenesss of current warning devices and systems. Fluorescent colors such as orange and yellow-green have been found to be the most noticeable. Additionally, today’s LED lights are more seeable and recognizable than lighting systems of old.
Comfortable But Safe Seating
Ideally, if the seats for drivers and attendants can be ergonomically correct and comfortable, that’s a bonus. But above all else, they have to be safe. Seat issues that must meet safety standards involve seatbelt warning systems, child restraints, patient access, head clearance, and seatbelts.
The integrity of the vehicle is essential to the safety of those in and around it. How an EMS vehicle is built, its structural components, construction of the roof and walls, welded seams, interior cabinetry, rounded off corners, insulation, and more are all factors in this category. When in doubt, educate yourself by speaking directly to a manufacturer with any questions you may have regarding this topic.
Suspension and chassis selection – as well as design specification – are other areas of concern that should be looked into when attempting to ensure the safety of your EMS vehicle, its attendants, driver, and patients.
Other Areas of Concern
Motor vehicle accidents aren’t the only way that EMS attendants and drivers get hurt. Lifting injuries are plentiful. To fight these injuries, cot lifting systems, liftgate systems, or ramps have been installed in many EMS vehicles.
Mickey Genuine Parts has equipment that can assist with various safety concerns and on-the-road warnings. We carry numerous lighting systems and individual lights. Above all else, our main concern is our customers – namely, their satisfaction and their safety. If you have questions about any part, trailer, van, or other Mickey Genuine Parts product, please talk to one of our knowledgeable representatives.