How to buy helmets
By Greg Friese
I wear a helmet when I cycle and skate. I have worn a helmet when riding on a rescue snowmobile and an ATV. I see firefighters wearing helmets on the same rescue scenes where I am only wearing a ball cap. I would gladly wear a helmet on incident scenes and even in the ambulance if my employer required it. They have not. Have you considered personally purchasing a helmet? Are you considering purchasing helmets for your employees to wear in the ambulance?
A helmet is personal protective equipment EMS professionals should consider using to prevent and minimize head injury from ambulance collisions, falling or flying equipment, rollover accidents, sudden decelerations, and other types of mechanisms that could cause head injury. When purchasing helmets for EMS professionals consider these things:
1. Support of policies and monitoring for use. Many employees will resist or not wear employer provided helmets without the right combination of education and mandate. If you are going to purchase helmets ensure that policies, training, and monitoring systems are in place to ensure compliance with use guidelines.
2. Compliance with applicable industry standards for helmets. Different regulatory agencies and/or standard setting organizations promulgate standards for the quality and performance requirements of helmets. Make sure an EMS helmet meets or exceeds those standards.
3. Integration of eye and face protection. If the helmet has an integrated face shield it should have the Z87.1 rating for impact resistance. (Learn more about eye and face protection from OSHA).
4. Proper fit is essential. A poorly fit or improperly secured helmet is of no benefit and may even increase injury. If implementing a helmet program ensure that EMS professionals are properly instructed to use and secure the helmet.
5. Comprehensive safety program. Equipping EMS professionals is a significant financial investment. Make sure field personnel are following other practices to minimize head injuries like always using seatbelts in the patient care compartment, securing equipment when the vehicle is in motion, coming to a complete stop at all red lights and stop signs, and minimizing the use of red lights and sirens.
Should we be wearing helmets in our modern and dangerous work environment? If you wear a helmet or have required your EMS employees to wear helmets on incident scenes or the patient care compartment, tell us what else to add to this list.
Any other suggestions for purchasing EMS helmets? What features do you seek in a helmet? Anything we missed in the list above? Leave a comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your feedback.