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On average, there are 12 ambulance crashes each day in this country, and one-third of these result in injury. Not all of these happen to the patient as first responders are also at risk. Ambulance passengers may now benefit from new technologies designed to keep them safer. According to ABC News, a new seat belt has been designed that may keep paramedics, emergency medical service providers (EMS), and passengers safe in the event of an ambulance crash. There are other technologies in the works as well.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 4,500 ambulance crashes occur every year in the U.S. In 84 percent, the first responders were not wearing their seat belts. The main reason is because it is more difficult for EMS providers and paramedics that are buckled in to work on patients.
Imma, a company that manufactures ambulance seat belts, has created a new restraint using Controlled Decelerator Technology. These new belts are different because they extend enough to allow first responders to remain buckled in while extending their bodies slightly forward. This lets them work on the patients and affords more flexibility that can lessen impact on the body from a crash.
ABC’s televised story on these seatbelts included side-by-side comparisons of what happened inside two ambulances during crashes. In one, crash test dummies were wearing seatbelts; in the other, they were not. The tests showed that it is imperative for these first responders to wear seatbelts.
An EMS worker needs space to work in, and keeping it safe, accessible, and functional is paramount. At the 2017 National Association of EMS Physicians annual meeting, this topic was explained that the communications, controls, and other equipment should be close to where the EMS workers sit. This reduces their need to move around the compartment and allows them to keep their seat belt on.
Ambulance design is regulated by the federal government, and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) published a 2014 report on ambulance safety standards, which helps as a guideline for safety practices. Regulation varies between states, but following the standards is a key contributor to passenger safety.
The SAE reported that progress is being made toward improved provider and patient restraint systems, including the Controlled Decelerator Technology seatbelt, but more improvements still need to be made. They also pointed out that passenger body size and weight is a variable that can affect ergonomics in an ambulance crash as not everyone is affected by a crash in the same way.
When ambulance crashes happen, they can destroy lives. If you have been in a vehicle crash or work accident, you are not alone. Contact a Delaware work accident lawyer at Rhoades & Morrow for professional, compassionate guidance. Reach out today by calling us at 302-427-9500 or contact us online for a free legal consultation. With office locations in Wilmington, Milford, and Bear, Delaware, we proudly serve clients throughout the state, including the areas of Elsmere and Seaford.