Experts say there are 4.500 crashes involving ambulances in the U.S. every year. In an effort to improve safety new seatbelt technology for ambulances is being released by a company named IMMI and it’s expected to be installed on up to 70% of new ambulances.
Susquehanna Valley EMS in Lancaster County gets their trucks from a different company that IMMI contracts with but their ambulances do have seatbelts similar to the new ones being released.
Rob Walker with Susquehanna Valley EMS told CBS 21, “When an ambulance is struck it is devastating.”
Walker has been in an ambulance accident and knows how dangerous they can be.
“We’re in this box barreling down the highway standing up sometimes to take care of patients,” said Walker.
IMMI says their new seatbelts are four point harnesses.
The VP of Engineering for the company, Nick Awadby, told CBS 21, “It’s a restraint system that has four belts that click with one buckle and each of those belts is on a retractor that allows web to spool out.”
Awadby says the problem with old ambulances is most of them just have belts that go across the waist and you can hardly move in them. IMMI says sometimes paramedics would have to take them off to treat patients and that’s what was dangerous about them.
“We realized the primary reason they’re not wearing their seatbelts was related to the fact they felt like they couldn’t do their job or care for the patient they were there to be caring for,” said Awadby.
SVEMS says their new ambulances have similar seatbelts to the ones IMMI is releasing but theirs are five point harnesses comparable to what you’d see in a race car.
“From a safety perspective being able to be fully restrained in the event of an accident is a lot safer and I can move around in the 5 point harness. I can move forward, I can have patient access, and I don’t have to unstrap to reach equipment,” said Walker.
SVEMS says there’s been a focus, especially in the past few years, to improve safety and that effort is welcome.
“Anything we can do to minimize that to keep the equipment secured, the patient secured, the EMT’s and paramedics safe, it’s just a life saver,” said Walker.