Fleet Afoot: What’s New in the Realm of Ambulance Safety?

And can it really be cheaper?


For the EMS Safety Foundation, 2012 got off to a busy start. In January alone, foundation chief Nadine Levick, MD, MPH, unveiled a poster at the National Association of EMS Physicians show that described fleets of safer new ambulances achieved at lower costs; chaired the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board’s EMS Transport Safety Subcommittee; and hosted a Foundation webinar that laid key groundwork for February’s planned TRB safety summit and a May trip to the German rescue conference and trade show RETTmobil. EMS World caught up for a Q&A.

How was the poster (see “Safer” sidebar) received at NAEMSP?

People are fascinated. Everyone is so used to hearing, ‘We have to do it differently, we have to do it better.’ Well, here’s an example of not only doing it differently and better, but doing it cheaper, too. It’s a vehicle that’s less expensive to purchase and has a fuel economy at least twice as good as anything else. People keep saying, ‘Oh, it’s so much more expensive to do it better,’ and we know now that’s not the case.

Among the content covered at the subcommittee meeting was a pair of fleet-management technologies, Acetech and Telematicus (see sidebar). What should people know about those?

Those technologies have generated an enormous amount of interest. We’ll be holding a fleet management webinar where those and all the technologies out there can be looked at and talked about, but these are both very impressive. People should think about what Simon Ralphs from Telematicus said at the subcommittee meeting: He held up a smart phone and said, ‘Listen, this phone has more computing power than your vehicle has.’ That’s true, and an interesting thing to consider. So now you have fleet-management software that operates off a smart phone! That’s why you go to TRB, to walk away with stuff like that.

What sorts of things are planned for the summit in February?

Overall, this summit is strictly focused on safety systems, strategies and solutions—what’s out there you can use now. We’ll have this group of experts together, so one of the things we want to do is a panel to help people optimize what they have now. Whatever your fleet is, based on what we’ve been able to identify with this group of experts, what is it that can save you time, lives and money? What’s going to give you bang for buck to get the safest, most efficient operation out of the fleet you have?

At the last summit we had some general discussions about research needs, which is a strong focus of the TRB. At this summit we’re going to have two sessions: One will focus on identifying specific research questions, and we’ll provide everyone with a document they can fill out during the day on what questions they think are important. Then we’ll have a session at the end collating those and discussing specific questions and submitting them to the TRB.

By the time people read this in March, will there still be time to join this year’s RETTmobil delegation?

Absolutely, we can always squeeze some people in. They’re actually bringing down the latest safety vehicle from Norway, so we’ll have another hands-on workshop with that.

Sidebar: Safer and Cheaper? New Designs Promise Best of Both Worlds

Attendees at EMS World Expo in 2010 may have seen the improved ambulance design fielded by the Dallas-area service CareFlite. That and a similar fleet in Oslo, Norway, were the subject of the EMS Safety Foundation’s poster presentation at NAEMSP, entitled “Safety and Operational Innovation: Integrating Global Best Practice and Interdisciplinary Technical Expertise Into Ambulance Design.”

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