improvements in ambulance seats. Manufacturers are focusing on building products
that meet the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) standards. Two SAE standards
are SAE J2917: Occupant Restraint and Equipment Mounting Integrity—Frontal Impact
System-Level Ambulance Patient Compartment;
and J3026: Ambulance Patient Compartment
Seating Integrity and Occupant Restraint.
NFPA 1917 requires dynamic seat test-
ing to improve occupant safety and crash
survivability. 3 The standards also address
seat belts, head clearance, patient access, child
restraints and seat belt warning systems. Pur-
chase seats that meet these safety standards.
One subject not covered in the new standards is seat direction. Have you ever wondered why there are no side-facing seats in
U.S. automobiles? Many may feel that the
old side-facing bench seat has worked well for
30 years, but it’s an unsafe riding position in
the event of a crash, even with a seat belt on.
One recent study stresses that forward- or
rear-facing seats provide better protection in
the event of an accident or evasive maneuver
than side-facing seats. 4
I attended the RETTmobil (German for
“mobile rescue”) conference in Fulda, Germany, where 300 international vendors were
exhibiting their EMS products. I noticed a
similar theme in every European ambulance:
There was no side-facing seating. Why are we
still riding sideways in U.S. ambulances? Is it
our history and tradition? Is it the original,
outdated KKK specifications?
It’s a challenge to design ambulance seats
and restraint systems that provide the necessary crash protection and still allow responders
to access the patient, medical equipment and
supplies in an unrestrained manner. The new
European designs, which offer comfortable,
more compact and adjustable seats are slowly
being adopted by EMS services in the U.S. 5
COT LIFTING SYSTEMS
With the rising cost of workers’ compensation injury claims, having an electric stretcher,
hydraulic cot lifting system or lift gate system
will help reduce back injuries and possibly
extend the careers of crew members. At first
glance, a lifting system may seem pricey, but
they’re a great return on the initial investment. Operationally, cot lifting systems also
make perfect sense with the increasing number
of obese patients that EMS crews are called
upon to transport.
A cot lifting system may be a mechanical
or hydraulic device that lifts the cot into the
patient compartment without requiring the
crew to physically lift it into the ambulance.
The currently available systems include independent power cots, loading ramps, lift gates
and power loaders.
An advantage of using a ramp or lift gate
system is that it can accommodate a variety
of cots, along with other types of equipment,
such as incubators and balloon pumps.
One such system, Mac’s Lift Gate, sets up
in less than 60 seconds and the standard lift
gate can carry up to 750 lbs. A bariatric version can lift up to 1,300 lbs. These lifts can
be installed on a new unit or retrofitted on
an older unit.
Driving emergency vehicles is a risky task,
especially in a densely populated urban environment or busy highway system. Crew safety
Ambulance insulation can vary; one builder may use spray-in foam insulation while another uses common
household insulation. Photo courtesy Wayne Zygowicz
With the rising cost of workers’ compensation injury claims, having a power stretcher or lift gate system will
help reduce back injuries and possibly extend the careers of the crew members. Photo courtesy Mac’s Lift Gate