The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) recently released a document that is open to public comment with regard to ambulance construction standards. The document itself, entitled NFPA 1917, will essentially replace the Triple K specification which has long guided the direction of ambulance construction. Whether or not the document will fulfill its purpose of creating safer ambulances, however, depends upon the creative insight and input from EMS professionals on the document itself.
Stakeholders in the ambulance manufacturing sector will be paying especially close attention to what the final draft of this document will hold with regard to new specifications. As it stands now, the average price of an ambulance will be expected to rise if the standards are more stringent. More safety enhancements will come at a greater cost to the department. By opening the document up to public comment, however, the cost and safety of future ambulances will ultimately be affected by ambulance manufacturers and city managers alike.
EMTs want a safer vehicle and rightly so. A separate document from September 2011 created by the NFPA containing ambulance crash statistics is essential for anyone looking to weigh in on the proposed NFPA 1917 standard. The report contains data that was collected over a nineteen year period (1990-2009) about ambulance crashes and related fatalities.
One of the biggest omissions in the NFPA 1917 standards is the lack of ambulance crash testing requirements. This might come as a surprise to those in the EMT community looking for safer vehicles. The main reason being given for the omission is that a “pulse” cannot yet be identified for what makes an ambulance worthy of passing a crash test.
Have a question or comment about what you think makes an ambulance suitable for the road? The document will be reviewed by the NFPA this upcoming February 2012 so now is the time to voice your opinions. We’d love to hear what you have to think!
Once final review is complete, the NFPA 1917 document will be adopted on January 1, 2013.