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EMS driver safety survey: 6 key takeaways

A recent survey illustrates the importance of measuring EMS driver performance and training in preventing accidents on the road.


The following is paid content sponsored by Zoll Data Management

Working in EMS means spending a considerable amount of time on the road, and driving brings with it some unavoidable hazards. In fact, going to and from a scene are statistically more dangerous than the clinical work that EMTs and paramedics do.

Naturally, many in EMS focus on improving clinical work, but the dangers of driving beg the question: what are agencies doing to protect themselves and their employees?

To shed some light on the issue, we polled over 400 current and former EMS professionals, with 85% currently serving in the EMS profession in some capacity. Of those, 25% reported that they were EMS managers, supervisors, coordinators and administrators. Another 23% were paramedics, a further 23% were Basic level EMTs, with the rest filling in the balance.

With a good cross-section of the EMS ecosystem represented, the results were enlightening. We identified six takeaways from our survey that will influence how you see driver safety.

The vast majority of respondents were satisfied with their current safety program, with 26% rating it as adequate, 37% rating it as good, and 16% rating it as excellent.

How would you rate your current driver safety program

But is that the whole story? This is particularly surprising as 28% of respondents noted that their agency does not monitor driver performance and 40% had personally been in vehicle accidents. Digging a little deeper, the different trends in excellent-rated safety programs versus those rated as poor shed some light on what means were most effective.

40% of respondents have personally been involved in accidents, suggesting that if you haven’t been in an accident yet, there’s a good chance you will be.

Have you been involved in an on-the-job accident

When broken down by rank/experience, those with more experience were more likely to have been in an accident, while those in positions that suggest less experience were more likely to answer ‘no’. What does that tell us? If you haven’t been in an accident and are driving an emergency vehicle, you probably will be at some point.

Proactive measurement led to higher ratings for safety.

Safety rating vs proactive and reactive programs

Moreover, the distribution between agencies that used proactive and reactive means of measuring driver performance were evenly split 49% to 50%. However, those who used proactive means of measuring driver performance were twice as likely to rate their program as good, and eight times more likely to rate it as excellent. Put another way, nearly 90% of those who rated their program as excellent used proactive driver safety programs, whereas 90% of those who rated their program as poor used reactive means.

In addition, drivers in proactive safety programs were less likely to have been in a vehicle accident while on the job and less likely to be working for an agency in which an accident has caused injury or death.

38% of respondents in proactive programs reported having been involved in an accident while on the job, compared to 45% for reactive. When asked if a member of their organization had been involved in a crash resulting in injury or death, 41% of those in proactive programs answered ‘yes’ compared to 56% of those in reactive programs.

Those who rated their safety program as poor were least likely to provide any continued vehicle driver safety training. In fact, 67% of those who rated their program as poor responded that they did not perform any kind of training at all. On the other end of the spectrum, those respondents who rated their safety program as excellent were much more invested in routine training, with 56% holding annual training, 28% holding quarterly training, and 10% training monthly.

rating vs continued education

Not surprisingly, those programs rated as poor were also much less likely to measure driver performance.  65% of those who rated their safety program as poor reported not using any metric to measure driver performance.

rating vs performance

Excellent programs saw the number of violations (63%) and number of accidents (53%) as the primary metrics of driver performance.

Nearly half (45%) of those in poor safety programs reported not using any technology in their vehicle safety program. Those who rated their program good or excellent were more likely to use and rate multiple technologies, primarily GPS/vehicle tracking, video cameras, and onboard data recorders (black boxes).

Summary

This survey demonstrates a clear, if unsurprising, correlation between proactive driver safety programs and better performance. More frequent training and the use of real-time data collection were indicators of better overall driver safety programs. Considering that EMS workers spend a great deal of their time on the road, and maintenance and insurance costs account for a large part of any agency’s budget, it appears that investing in better training and data collection appears is a prudent move for any EMS agency.

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