Why is there so much discussion and concern about ambulance safety?

February 25, 2022

EMS is one of the most dangerous jobs in the country with an injury rate about three times the national average for all occupations (Prehosp Disaster Med. 2013 Aug;28(4):376-82. doi: 10.1017/S1049023X13003555. Epub 2013 May 9).

Ambulances can be big, dangerous boxes; occasionally operated by drivers with limited experience. Ambulances weigh much more than an automobile, are more difficult to maneuver, and when responding to an emergency may operate with special privileges regarding motor vehicle laws.

Historically, while the driver’s compartment of an ambulance has been designed by automotive engineers, the patient compartment was the domain of buyers and manufacturers. In the absence state regulations referencing safety testing and standards, configuration decisions were based upon convenience and storage instead of safety.

Ambulances by design and EMS by culture have encouraged providers to be unsecured during patient transport. In the event of a sudden stop, turn, or crash, people and objects unsecured during transport become airborne and pose a threat to themselves, the patient, and others in the vehicle.