Energy, specifically energy from fossil fuels, is becoming increasingly scarce and expensive, and political and social pressures to constrain greenhouse gas emissions are intensifying. Energy scarcity, energy costs and emissions constraints are potential threats to all industries, enterprises, organizations and services—including healthcare.1 EMS is a vehicle-intense component of the healthcare sector and, as such, is particularly vulnerable to these interrelated threats.
You’re in another state, waiting to use a crosswalk, and you see this guy in a tired-looking ’52 Chevy pickup bust a red light and broadside a minivan. In the time it takes you to size things up, approach the victims and offer your help, the local PD, fire and EMS agencies arrive. The family in the minivan seems fine, but there are no safety belts in the pickup, and its sole occupant looks pretty sick. There are plenty of responders, so you back off a little and fade into the gathering crowd.
The gleaming ambulances that grace the EMS Today Conference & Exposition show floor are always a hit. The ones showcased during this year’s show in Washington, D.C., were no exception. They introduced many cool new interior and exterior features and clever, practical innovations, including increased safety measures, improved aerodynamics and fuel systems and better lighting.
The EMS community is still in the midst of figuring out how it will handle the contemplated retirement of the venerable General Services Administration ambulance specification (KKK-A-1822-x), the release of the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) ambulance standard, the responsibility of individual states to regulate ambulances, and a number of other forces that are affecting ambulance design and construction.
Researching information for articles on fire and EMS organizations has not only been a job, but a hobby for me for the past 13 years. Although most of my columns have highlighted fire department apparatus, I recently began to expand my horizons into the many superb EMS rescue squads and their unique apparatus and means of operation.
I think our approach to EMS does a pathetic job of caring for many of the people we serve, Life-Saver. I think we need to work smarter than simply taking everybody to hospitals over and over again. We’re not robots, and I don’t think what we do is helping some of them.
I survived a grade-school environment where academic failure meant physical pain. My teacher would command me to put my hands on my desk, and she would play rap music on them with a maple pointer. And that was nothing, compared to what awaited me at home when my dad returned from work. My crime: not “applying” myself. Nothing less than a B would do, because in Pop’s view, non-achievement meant lack of effort.
In certain areas around the country, we sometimes see a duplication of fire services and EMS, not to mention competition—sometimes downright animosity—between the two. But among the negative relationships, there are positive examples of fire and EMS working together in innovative, productive ways.
For many EMS providers, it’s hard to imagine responding to calls in this day and age without a GPS guiding them to the front door of a scene. Technology has, in many ways, vastly improved efficiency for EMS. Specialized vehicle identification programs like Ferno’s ACETECH system and ZOLL’s RescueNet Road Safety system have introduced new technologies that have taken EMS vehicle dynamics to the next level with innovative features, such as error reporting, asset tracking, engine idle recording and much more.
When it comes to spec-ing an ambulance for your agency, there are many important considerations to keep in mind when thinking about a vehicle that will house numerous patients as well as be your “home” during long shifts. The following 10 guidelines will help you make the most informed decisions for reliability, comfort and safety.