Patient and provider safety is our No. 1 concern when it comes to ambulance transports, yet we traditionally overlook a simple way of providing a safe working environment inside our ambulances: securing our equipment.
Let’s take a look at three questions we should ask ourselves when retrofitting a current ambulance, purchasing a new ambulance or creating a new interior design to accommodate our safety needs (not just concerns).
1. Do I need to access it from the inside?
Loose equipment is a potential projectile.
Blood pressure cuffs, splints, radios, flashlights, wheel chocks and cardiac monitors are all items that you see carried on an ambulance, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they all need to be carried inside of one.
External compartments are a great option for carrying (and securing) items that aren’t typically needed inside of an ambulance during transport and patient care. Mounting brackets, dividers, slide-out shelves and securing straps can all be used in an external compartment storage design.
Each of the pieces of equipment stored in an outside compartment certainly holds a purpose, just not one that requires immediate accessibility inside of the ambulance, .and certainly not one that warrants them becoming a potential projectile hazard in the event of a collision or hard stop.
2. Can I reach it standing up?
While standing during transport is not an advocated practice, it does happen. Securing necessary equipment to walls or counters, keeps it accessible, yet secured.
Sliding-door cabinets can keep loose items like bandaging supplies and IV bags well secured, but newer track systems and mounting brackets can also be integrated into your ambulance interior design to help keep cardiac monitors and other bagged or contained equipment in stow.
An important consideration to keep in mind for standing-access equipment is whether or not a provider can still hold onto a handrail while accessing secured items. Simple-lever designs and push-release buttons have helped to facilitate this access consideration.
3. Can I reach it sitting down?
Sitting (while properly seat belted) has become the gold safety standard within our industry during the course of patient transport.
Limited access to equipment, nevertheless, has always been the argument against this recommended practice.
To combat the risk and tradition of standing (or remaining un-belted) in the patient compartment, manufacturers are turning to better ergonomically-designed mounts and ambulance design systems in order to promote safer practices.
Wall mounts secured to sliding tracks have been introduced into ambulances, just like sliding track seats. Brackets are secured to stretchers to hold cardiac monitors in place, while still allowing for patient movement and full-body access.
Safety has finally become the focus of many manufacturers, which has transitioned into a source of innovation. What was once loose on a counter is now secured (within reach) on a shelf. The number of potential projectiles inside of our ambulances has been greatly decreased through mounts and brackets, and the safest method of provider transportation (in a seated, secured position) has now become the objective.
So, the next time you’re purchasing a new ambulance – or if you’re simply looking to integrate some more safety features into your current design – ask yourself these three simple questions.