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6 lifesaving seat belt tips for EMTs and paramedics

Try these tips to make seat belt use in the patient care compartment just as normal as your personal vehicle

I am sure your department has a seat belt use policy. Yet, I observe few EMS professionals wearing a seat belt in the patient care compartment of the ambulance. When asked I encounter responses that range from indifference to hostility when suggesting we should always wear our seat belts in a moving ambulance.

Common complaints are that wearing a seat belt might compromise patient care by not being able to perform tasks like reaching for equipment, using a bag valve mask, talking on the radio or compressing the patient's chest.

These are my tips for wearing a seat belt in the patient care compartment as much as possible.

1. Start by making a personal commitment to use a seat belt on every transport.

2. Maximize assessment and interventions performed before transport starts based on patient condition and protocol.

3. Organize your workspace so the tools and equipment you will most likely need are within reach during transport.

4. Use a cell phone to call hospital report, if allowed, so you can talk from any seat belted position.

5. For additional supplies needed during the call, I like to keep the first-in bag belted to the seat next to me. I use supplies from there and replenish the bag from the cabinets after the call.

6. If you must leave your seat, try to wait until the vehicle comes to a halt at a stop sign or red light.

Finally, if your service routinely transports pulseless patients, it is well past time to have a thoughtful conversation with your medical director and service director about the efficacy of manual chest compressions in an ambulance relative to the risk to you and your colleagues.

Share your tips for maximizing seat belt use in the patient care compartment.

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