National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
NIOSH was created in 1970 by the Occupational Safety and Health Act to be responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injuries.
NIOSH’s early EMS related research was conducted collaboratively with the U.S. and Canadian Armies. The goal was to determine whether or not commercially available restraint systems used in military helicopters to allow soldiers some mobility could be transitioned to ground ambulances where EMS workers had a perceived need to be mobile while attending to a patient.
As a part of this early collaborative work, NIOSH and its partners conducted their first ambulance crash tests in 2003. These tests not only validated the mobility restraint systems as viable alternatives but also identified many opportunities for safety improvements. Video
In 2007, NIOSH partnered with the AMD-NTEA to create a new AMD test (AMD 025) to reduce the potential for head injuries. This test provided measurement methods to ensure adequate head clearance existed above each seating position. AMD 025 was later included in a revision of the GSA K-Specs.
NIOSH and AMD-NTEA have also developed test procedures to evaluate how seats, the patient cot, equipment mounts, and interior cabinet and storage devices perform in a crash (front, side, or rear). A test speed of 30 mph is used in each test which matches the test speed used in most automobile testing.
Test procedures developed by NIOSH and AMD-NTEA are submitted to SAE for further review, comment, and ultimately publication. Upon acceptance and publication, each becomes an SAE Recommended Practice. SAE Recommended Practices or test procedures are extremely well regarded by the mobility industry (ground, air, and rail) and are referenced internationally.
NIOSH continues to work closely with federal agencies and manufacturers providing research and recommendations to improve occupational safety for EMS providers.
NIOSH also participated as a Subject Matter Expert during the development of both Ground Vehicle Standards 1.0 and NFPA 1917: Standard for Automotive Ambulances.