NHTSA Ambulance Crash Studies

Everyday EMS providers assist people with a myriad of potential issues. Some have been involved in an accident or others may be experiencing an illness or negative reaction to something causing issue. In many cases, the patient needs to be transported to a medical facility. Since this is such a common occurrence, most people do not think twice about the increased risks transporting a patient poses for both the patients and the attendants. One group who has put a lot of thought and even multiple studies into this is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In particular, the NHTSA have done a study on Ambulances involved in crashes and released their findings. Recently, Neil Smith wrote an article for EMSWorld.com that outlined the NHTSA findings. Here are some of the highlights of the article.

The NHTSA looked at Ambulance accidents over the past 20 years and found that there were an average of 29 fatal crashes that resulted in an average of 33 fatalities annually. In these incidents only  25% of the fatalities occurred inside the ambulance, the rest were in the other “striking” vehicle. In addition, there are on average 1500 crashes involving ambulances with non-fatal injuries. Of these incidents, 46% of injuries occurred inside the vehicle. To help put these numbers into perspective there were 32,719 fatalities on the road in 2013 for all drivers.

The NHTSA looked at pre-crash, crash, and post-crash data and their findings were that 4 out of 5 EMS attendants were not buckled in or restrained during the crashes. In a study of 45 providers involved in crashes there were 11 instances where the driver was not even using a seat belt. Being properly belted or restrained in the patient module is not only for the safety of the EMS attendant, studies have shown that occupant to occupant contact has occurred and resulted in additional injuries to the patient, including 2 cases where the results were fatal.

On a positive note, 96% of patients were restrained when the crash occurred. While the 96% is a high percentage,  the bad news is that only 33% of these patients are restrained with lateral belts and shoulder harnesses.  Of the crashes investigated 44% of patients were ejected from their cots.

Global Emergency Vehicles is proud to offer ambulances equipped with 5 pt. harnesses and promote safety for both patient and attendant.  Contact us to discuss these and other safety options for your next ambulance.