EMS providers stress need for driving standards

According to an anonymous paramedic, the driving skills of EMS “newbies” are “nerve-wracking” because they blow through red lights at high speeds

By EMS1 Staff

MINNEAPOLIS — EMS providers are speaking out about the lack of ambulance driving standards and stressed that the problem needs attention.

A paramedic who wished to remain anonymous said that the issue needs to be addressed because the “dangers are much worse than they used to be,” FOX9 reported.

The paramedic said the EMS “newbies” don’t know how to handle driving at high speeds with the lights on.

“It’s nerve-wracking when you’re in the back, especially if you’re getting thrown around because they have to hit the brakes because they’re not sure of something,” the paramedic said. “They get tunnel vision on the fact that they’ve got emergency lights, everybody gets out of their way and they just hit the gas and go.”

Hennepin EMS member Mike Trullinger said the problem comes from the paramedic shortage.

“Nationwide we have a shortage of paramedics, every service is doing what they can to hire, and they’re younger and they have less experience,” Trullinger said.

Safety consultant Dave McGowan said the problem is “underreported.”

“Certainly we’re not decreasing crashes and if anything, the trend line is still continuing to go up,” he said.

The current state law in Minnesota does not require EMS providers to have a special license to drive an ambulance, but new drivers must complete an eight-hour safety course.

The anonymous paramedic said too many people are getting hurt to not have a standard for ambulance driving.

The parents of Marina Challeen, an EMT who died in an ambulance crash last October, said they are shocked by the lack of driving standards.

“I’m just sad that after losing my daughter to learn of this,” Challeen’s dad, Dan, said.

“If she were here now and able to speak, she would say ‘Come on people, get with it, and do something about this,’" Challeen’s stepmother, Linda, said.

An ambulance crashes at an average of every seven days in Minnesota, with 22 percent of them resulting in an injury, according to the report.

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