Proceedings of XVIIth World Congress on Safety and Health at Work, September 16-20, 2005, Orlando, FL. Itasca, IL: National Safety Council, 2005 Sep; :1-8
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Division of Safety Research, collaborated with the U.S, Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command, the Canadian Forces Health Services Group Headquarters, the Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care, Ontario, Canada, and the U.S. Fire Administration on a research effort to increase the crash protection afforded emergency medical service (EMS) workers in ambulance patient compartments. The estimated fatality rate for EMS workers is 12.7 deaths per 100,000 workers, more than twice the national average of 5.0 for all U.S. workers. Transportation-related events, including ambulance crashes, are the most common cause of death among U.S. EMS workers. Ambulance crash investigations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and NIOSH were used to identify injury risk and circumstances. Results of these investigations show that regardless of occupant location, non-use of occupant restraints resulting in collisions between unrestrained occupants and compartment bulkheads and cabinets is the primary injury risk. Seat belts currently provided in ambulances do not allow the mobility that EMS workers need to care for patients. As a result, EMS workers routinely work unrestrained in the patient compartment. Occupant restraints that provide mobility within the ambulance patient compartment, and are capable of mitigating crash-related injuries were evaluated using a mathematical model; a 29-run, laboratory-based, sled-testing program; and, a four-vehicle crash test program. Each sled and crash test included four instrumented anthropomorphic test devices (A IDs) or crash test dummies. During these tests, the mobile restraints prevented the ATDs from secondary collisions in the patient compartment and were structurally sound at acceleration levels between 25 and 30gs. Use of mobile restraints has the potential to significantly reduce crash-related injuries to EMS workers in ambulance patient compartments. Recognizing seat belts have been viewed as an impediment to the ability of EMS workers to provide patient care, future NIOSH work with mobile restraints will focus on factors that affect user acceptance.