I started working at EMS Magazine in May 1995. Since that time, there are two topics that have received considerable coverage within the publication-emergency vehicle safety and EMS response to school shootings.
For the month of March, EMSResponder.com reported five ambulance accidents, two of which resulted in three deaths (see Ambulance Accident Roundup, p. 82). This issue's cover report focuses on the importance of vehicle-safety programs (see Rules of the Road, p. 69). As with other safety issues in EMS, success depends on personnel buying into the concept of a safety culture. This can be difficult to achieve. After all, lots of folks want to do things their way. Implementing policies and guidelines that make sense and are realistic is one of the first steps to developing a safety culture. If providers know what is expected of them, it is easier for them to modify their behavior.
Technology is also assisting agencies in improving vehicle safety. After Minneapolis-based HealthEast Medical Transportation implemented a vehicle monitoring system, the agency saw incredible results. Before the system was installed, average miles between counts, or violations, was 0.03. Now, the average miles between counts is up to 22.8 and the agency has not seen any crashes that were caused by crew members. This issue also provides an update on the Virginia Tech shootings (see First Responders Recall Virginia Tech Tragedy, p. 16).
It is unfathomable to imagine what those responders faced when they arrived at the scene. One thing that is clear is that their response was well-executed due to the agencies having comprehensive preplans in place. The Virginia Tech Rescue Squad, the second-oldest collegiate squad in the country, had completed several MCI drills, which left them well-prepared to handle the terrible events of that day, and crews worked well together because they were familiar with one another. As with all MCIs, this level of communication is key to a successful response.
Our best wishes go out to all the families of the victims, as well as to the EMS personnel who responded that day. Future issues of EMS Magazine will cover the topic of school-based response. In the meantime, our website features archived articles that focus on this area. For more, visit www.emsresponder.com.