Seatbelts on Ambulances to Protect First Responders

September 24, 2018

Recently, ABC News reported that technologically advanced seatbelts, designed to keep first responders safe, will soon be rolled out.

There are approximately 4,500 ambulance accidents each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA); and in 84 percent of those crashes, emergency medical service (EMS) workers were not wearing seatbelts. Ambulance workers say that they often choose not to wear seatbelts so they can better care for patients.

However, ambulance accidents can cause serious injuries. At just 25 miles per hour, a 14,000-pound ambulance can rollover, causing occupants to suffer serious injuries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that in 2015 alone, seatbelts prevented 14,000 deaths and reduced crash-related injuries by almost half.

Controlled Decelerator Technology

Indiana Mills and Manufacturing, Inc. (IMMI), one of the largest manufacturers of advanced safety systems and creators of seatbelts with retractable restraints, has now come out with a new seatbelt featuring controlled decelerator technology. This four-point belt expands slightly, so that impact on the body is reduced in the event of a crash. It also allows EMS workers to remain buckled up while attending to patients.

According to a paramedic who suffered severe head injuries in an ambulance crash, it is not currently possible to adequately care for patients while restrained. He says the new seatbelts will help to keep both first responders and patients safe, by allowing emergency care staff to keep their seatbelts on while caring for patients.

A simulation test conducted by IMMI shows that EMS workers who were not wearing seatbelts flew around the back of the ambulance when it crashed, while those who were wearing seatbelts remained restrained.

Additional Safety Recommendations

The laws vary from state to state as to whether first responders are required to wear the belts. However, safety advocates emphasize the importance of staying buckled up in an ambulance. A researcher in the Division of Safety Research at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends the implementation of standardized guidelines, based on the findings of a wide variety of crash tests.

The researcher notes the importance of having the guidelines correspond to each component of the ambulance, because ambulances vary in build, weight, and internal design.

The NIOSH researcher’s other recommendations include patient care compartment functionality – moving frequently-used equipment closer to the first responders’ seating area and uniform implementation of standards developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).

The SAE is an organization that develops internationally recognized standards for automotive, aerospace, and commercial vehicles. Although meant to be used globally, the recommended standards are not federally mandated, and therefore not adhered to in all states.

Reading Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Help First Responders Recover Compensation for Work-Related Injuries

If you were injured at work, contact a skilled Reading workers’ compensation lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. You may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits including compensation for your medical expenses and lost wages. Call us at 888-PITT-LAW or complete our online contact form for a free consultation.

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