Ambulance Vehicle Standards Update at the AAA Conference

Standards vs. Standards: An in-depth look at the confusing world of vehicle standards

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The session title said it all on perhaps the most historic day in American politics as ambulance experts presented a review of where we are at in the quest for new, safer ambulance standards.
After years of hard work and input by many experts in the field, where we are at in a political environment is that there are now two solid sets of ambulance design standards that are very similar in intent and content that each state will get to select and endorse: The NFPA Ambulance Standards and the CAAS Ambulance standards.
The variances between the two are slight and can be seen in a chart that can be downloaded from the NASEMSO Website.

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The panel: John Russell, Ron Thackery, Mark Van Arnam, John McDonald, Michael Berg, John McDonald and Mark Postma
John McDonald, a representative from the General Services Administration (GSA) noted that the Federal KKK specifications on ambulances is still in existence until states adopt one of the two new standards guidelines. 7A
The key message of this session was that we now have multiple SAE standards that will make ambulances and their occupants safer than ever before and ambulance services will be able to purchase an ambulance that can be customized in a relatively regulation-free environment to meet their needs.
Recognized ambulance expert, Ron Thackery from AMR. reviewed NIOSH ambulance crash tests conducted by Jim Green, that replicated the National Institute for Safety at 31 MPH.
These test have resulted in the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) standards that are identified in the slide shown here. This is significant because it means that we now have SAE standards on things such as ambulance cot mounts and equipment brackets and storage hardware that will protect our crews and patients.

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The onus is now on purchasers to make sure they buy a new ambulance that meets the standard adopted by their particular state.  That will get touchy for services that buy ambulances that have to be deployed in different states because they will have to meet each state’s adopted standards. That is the price we pay for freedom of the states to choose between the two ambulance standards.

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There is also GREAT EMPHASIS by all parties involved on the requirement for stretcher straps that will drive ambulance safety into the next decade. The panel warned ambulance services that failure to use shoulder straps on cots (on every patient) could result in significant risk to them for lawsuits and awarded to plaintiffs.
The Ambulance Patient Compartment Human Factors Design Guidebook prepared by Jennifer Marshall, (now available online) was discussed as an epic piece of work that ambulance services should read. It shows where ambulance design, access and ergonomics are going. (See the slides and documents below)
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A word about the potential impact if you buy a new chassis and remount an older box on it;  States may require that they meet the new standards.
Mike Berg from the State of Virginia EMS Office spoke about his State’s focus on a part of the EMS ambulance industry that had been overlooked – remounts. Because Virginia’s laws do not differentiate between new and remounted ambulances, Virginia has ruled that all ambulances, new or remounted on new chassis need to comply with the current standards to operate in Virginia.

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The CAAS Ground Vehicle Standard for Ambulances

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About the Panel
John Russell is Vice Chair of the Professional Standards Committee of the AAA.
John McDonald is an automotive Commodity Specialist with the GSA Office of Motor Vehicle Management Control Office in Washington, DC
Michael Berg chairs the Agency, Vehicle and Licensure committee for the National Association of State EMS Officials (NASEMSO), A voting member of the technical review committee for NFPA 1917 ground ambulance standards, and a contributing member of the CAAS Ground Vehicle Ambulance Standards (GVS) 2015 committee representing NASEMSO.
Mark Postma is the Chief Operating Officer for the Paramedics Plus Sunstar operation in Pinellas County, FL He is the recipient of the Iowa Governors Safety Award, named one of the Top Business Leaders in the Quad Cities, served on the Board of Directors of the Iowa EMS Association and is the immediate past chairman of the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services.
Ron Thackery is responsible for safety, risk management, fleet administration, clinical and education services for AMR. Mr. Thackery received the Distinguished Service to Safety award from the National Safety Council in 2007, the highest individual award bestowed by the Council. He serves on the Board of Directors for the National Safety Council and chairs the Professional Standards and Research Committee of the American Ambulance Association. Prior to his service at AMR, he was an attorney with a worldwide express transportation company.
 Mark Van Arnam has been in the ambulance industry for over 45 years. He is the founder and former CEO of AEV/American Emergency Vehicles. Mark is currently serving as the Administrator of the new Ground Vehicle Standard developed by the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services (CAAS). Mark has received numerous awards and recognitions for his service to the industry, and serves on the AAA Professional Standards Committee as well as other ambulance EMS related boards and committees.

 

 

 

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