Providing prehospital patient care can be dangerous. EMS providers face several health and safety risks during each and every shift. EMTs and paramedics suffer work-related fatalities more than two times more frequently than the national average, and transportation-related injury is five times greater.1,2
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there’s an estimated average of 4,500 vehicle traffic crashes involving an ambulance every year, with 34% resulting in injuries and 33 people killed each year.3
The research and data that’s been collected and reported on EMS injuries and vehicle crashes have forced our industry to finally recognize that we have a vehicle safety problem that can’t be ignored. Of course, there are several factors that affect ambulance safety, with vehicle design and maintenance at the top of the list.
Ambulance Crash Testing
Braun Industries has been manufacturing handcrafted ambulances since 1972. The company is well-known for producing high-quality, custom vehicles and has had a long standing commitment to safety. As the industry’s eyes were opening to the serious risks posed by ambulance crashes, Braun pledged again their commitment to safety by announcing that their module’s roof and side load testing exceeded the required load capacity by 300%. The company followed that up with the industry’s first rollover module crash test in March 2016, which focused on the modular body and roll impact loading, or in simpler terms, how well the box would hold up in the event of a rollover.
In June 2016, Braun followed up the rollover test by putting a single ambulance through both a side impact crash test as well as a rollover crash test. The side impact crash test saw a Ford F-150 weighing over 4,600 lbs. and travelling over 40 mph, impact the curbside of a new Braun ambulance, replicating a vehicle hitting the side of the ambulance and the impact it takes. The result was only minor exterior body damage at the point of impact. The same ambulance was then used in a rollover module crash test: the ambulance was brought to a speed over 25 mph, when it was then engaged into a concrete track that allowed the rig to complete a full 360 degree rotation; landing on the wheels. The rollover created minor body damage at the points of impact, but there was no penetration into the occupant area as a result of either the side impact or rollover test.4
Demonstrating the crashworthiness of their ambulances proved the structural integrity of Braun’s units and helped to solidify the company’s reputation for producing high-quality, safe ambulances.
A ‘Smart Ambulance’
But the ambulance manufacturer didn’t stop there. Earlier this year, the company debuted another industry first: the first connectivity platform designed specifically for ambulances. MasterTech FleetConnect is a “smart ambulance technology” that helps ambulance fleet managers better plan for the longevity and safety of every ambulance in their fleet.
MasterTech FleetConnect uses Microsoft’s secure cloud platform to allow real-time monitoring of nearly everything on and inside every FleetConnect-equipped ambulance in your fleet, including engine and chassis diagnostics, detecting faults and defects on the vehicle’s electrical system, and RFID asset tracking. The system can even remotely update the electrical system inside the ambulance! In addition, the run log records live data from each shift, from power on to max speed to every stop and start, including total distance. It’s a great way to ensure personnel in the driver’s seat are driving responsibly and safely.
Created in partnership with IDEX Fire and Safety, MasterTech FleetConnect extends Braun’s commitment to ambulances that are “Built for Life.” Given the technology’s ability to lengthen vehicle life, reduce unplanned downtime, empower remote maintenance of ambulances in real-time and increase operator safety, MasterTech FleetConnect was named a 2018 JEMS Hot Product. Visit the Braun website for more information on MasterTech FleetConnect technology.
In the absence of clear, meaningful standards for ambulance design and construction, it’s important to keep your eye on what ambulance manufacturers like Braun are doing that will save not only time and money, but also lives.
- Maguire BJ. Transportation-related injuries and fatalities among emergency medical technicians and paramedics. Prehosp Disast Med. 2011;26(5):346-352.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ambulance crash related injuries among emergency medical services workers-United States, 1991-2002. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2003;52(8):154-156.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (Aug. 4, 2017.) Ambulance crash infographic. NHTSA Office of EMS. Retrieved Aug. 2, 2018, from www.ems.gov/pdf/NHTSAOEMSAmbulanceInfographic.pdf.
- Braun Ambulances. (2016.) Ambulance crash testing. Retrieved Aug. 2, 2018, from www.braunambulances.com/braun-strong-ambulance-crash-testing.