Ambulance design could increase safety for emergency responders

Emergency Management Alert, March 17, 2009

A study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recognizes the hazards unrestrained emergency medical services (EMS) workers face trying to care for patients in a moving ambulance.

The study, titled Creating a Safe Work Environment for Emergency Medical Service Workers, could mean a better designed patient compartment in future ambulances, according to a report on NIOSH compared the standard ambulance against the Winter Park (FL) Fire Rescue “Action Safe” Medtec ambulance designed by the department’s personnel for improved safety and ergonomics, the Web site reported.

The Winter Park design incorporates a sliding seat with fixed five-point restraint system to prevent an EMS worker from being thrown about and against hard, sharp objects found inside an ambulance. Traditional ambulance design offers little opportunity for EMS workers to remain restrained while treating a patient, since the layout usually won’t allow a belted worker to reach the patient or critical equipment while wearing a lap seatbelt, the Web site said.

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