Building safety into our designs & practices
By A.J. Heightman, MPA, EMT-P
This month JEMS has put together a special section that focuses on improving ambulance design, operations and safety at your department to keep
patients—and providers—safe and free from
unnecessary injuries and death.
In our first article, “The Road to Safety:
What to focus on to improve ambulance
safety,” author Wayne M. Zygowicz, MS,
EFO, CFO, EM T-P, presents 10 key areas
that agencies should focus on when designing ambulances to improve safety and the
longevity of the rig. He describes construction methods used by vehicle manufacturers
to educate you on considerations that you
want to discuss as you work to plan, spec and
purchase your next ambulance. This includes
a look at EMS vehicle designs, construction
and innovations from Europe, such as articulating seats which are now gaining popularity in the United States.
We then step outside of the ambulance,
where EMS crews are frequently called on to
lift, move and transport patients who weigh
double or triple the recommended weight—
often with a crew of only two providers.
In several of the articles in this special
section, we take a highly focused look at lifting and moving, two of the most important
but dangerous endeavors that EMS providers perform. The articles discuss innovative,
safe approaches to reducing injuries in order
to avoid the devastating, long-lasting consequences that can occur by a single misstep.
A WAKE-UP CALL
Many of the changes and innovations have
already been successfully implemented in
the prehospital setting, as well as in hospitals and the nursing industry, suggesting that we can minimize the incidence of
injury in EMS as well.
We hope this special section serves as a
wake-up call for the EMS industry, emphasizing the need for our industry to make
safety-informed choices during ambulance
design, adopt safe patient movement techniques, and procure innovative lifting and
We also hope it punctuates the need for
more research that will contribute to the dissemination of safe methods of lifting, moving and transporting patients. JEMS
A. J. Heightman, MPA, EMT-P, is the editor-in-chief of
JEMS, a speaker and presenter at EMS conferences around
the world, and an EMS educator specializing in mass casu-
alty incident response.
Learn more from A.J. Heightman at
the EMS Today Conference, Feb. 21–23,
in Charlotte, N.C. EMS Today.com