For most EMS agencies, buying an ambulance is an infrequent event. Today’s ambulances are generally very well built on a chassis that is both reliable and long lasting. That said, it’s still a box often mounted on a truck chassis, with a lot of options. Most ambulances are custom built and agencies purchasing them develop detailed bid specifications in order to evaluate competing models. Delivery times are often measured in months, and the process may involve a visit to the factory before completion.
Every EMS provider has personal ideas about how an ambulance should be designed based upon their experience. Some ideas are helpful, others are interesting and creative, and many may be unsafe.
EMS providers suffer work related injuries at three times the rate of other occupations; more than law enforcement officers and Alaska fishermen. Within the past decade, there have been considerable resources and efforts invested in evaluating the design and function of an ambulance, testing the results, and designing safer alternatives.
In addition to the federal purchasing guidelines, KKK-A-1822(F), accredited ambulance standards have been developed, vetted, and published by the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services (CAAS), Ground Vehicle Standards 1.0, and by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), NFPA 1917 (1916).
However, the science and technology used to improved today’s ambulances can only do so much. To significantly reduce injuries and death, EMS providers must also make operational and cultural changes.
Providers and purchasers may want to begin by visiting the following pages:
Guide for Developing an EMS Agency Safety Program (National EMS Safety Council)