We can’t believe it’s been four years since the launch of Pediatric Safety. We started out as this little site on blogger with these huge dreams of raising awareness of the dangers little kids faced when being transported on ambulances. Because there was no way to safely secure them, we had 1.8 million children under 5 years old being transported each year by ambulances; over 5 thousand ambulance crashes a year; resulting in an average of 4 child fatalities per year. And no-one knew about this or talked about this – unless they were involved in emergency services. Most parents had no idea…after all, who was going to tell them it wasn’t safe?
So we started Pedsafe to tell this story…to raise awareness, gather some momentum for change and hopefully start saving some kids lives! It didn’t take long to realize that we couldn’t do it on our own. We’d have to go out and look for support and ask all the people who care– the parents and doctors and nurses and emergency responders and teachers…basically everyone who cares about kids – for help. And as we started talking and tweeting and looking for help we realized there was a whole world of child health and safety issues that people wanted and needed to talk about – needed to depend on each other to support them through – and if we worked together, we could make this into something so much more than where we started.
And so, on July 17, 2009 Pediatric Safety was born – a community for everyone who cares about the health and safety of kids. We created an Awareness section to communicate the latest news; a Community area with a forum where folks can get together, exchange stories and ask questions; an Innovations section where some very creative parents and caregivers could show off the inventions they created to keep kids healthy and safe…and an Involvement section where our cause – ANSR for Kids (Ambulances Need Safety Regulations) – could find a home.
Since our launch, we’ve had the fortune to meet and work with some wonderful folks – a pediatrician, a nurse and child safety expert, a family psychologist, a water safety specialist, a family dentist, an EMS safety specialist and a special needs parenting expert – all of whom volunteered their time to help make this site a community where you can find answers and hopefully give answers to others when they need them. Together we’ve shared over seven hundred posts and eight thousand tweets about child health and safety. At its heart, Pediatric Safety is a place where people can support each other – the village needed to raise a child. If we’ve been able to accomplish even a little of that, then this has been 4 years well spent.
So…in honor of these 4 years together, we’re going to publish 4 of our favorite posts from the past – one each Friday – for the next 4 weeks. Thank you friends – for taking this journey with us! And please, if there’s something more we can be doing for you going forward, let us know. We look forward to sharing the days ahead.
With love and gratitude,
Stefanie and AudraPin It
In 2008 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) convened a working group of representatives from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Emergency Medical Services for Children, the American Ambulance Association, and other key organizations and started a project called “Solutions to Safely Transport Children in Emergency Vehicles”. Finally a long-standing problem was being recognized and addressed: “there are no Federal standards or standard protocols among EMS and child safety professionals in the U.S. for how best to transport children safely in ground ambulances from the scene of a traffic crash or a medical emergency to a hospital or other facility. The absence of consistent national standards and protocols … complicates the work of EMS professionals and may result in the improper and unsafe restraint of highly vulnerable child passengers.”(1)
In fact a 1998 study regarding the use of child restraints in ambulances revealed that 35 States did not require patients of ANY AGE to be restrained in a ground ambulance. Of those States that did require some sort of child restraint system, requirements for an “acceptable restraint” varied significantly.(2)
It is illegal in the US to travel with an unrestrained child in an automobile. However, when a child is already sick or injured, we have been willing to transport them in a vehicle where the passenger compartment is exempt from most safety requirements, they cannot be properly restrained and they have a higher probability of an accident than an automobile. We might not if we knew the following:
It is estimated that up to 1,000 ambulance crashes involve pediatric patients each year. It is also estimated that there are approximately 4 child fatalities per year.(3)
In a collision at 35mph, an unrestrained 15kg child is exposed to the same forces as in falling from a 4th story window.(4)
This past Wednesday, after an intense 2 year research effort, a public meeting in August 2010 to review the findings and gather input (see Pediatric Safety Post by Sandy Schnee “A Public Meeting on Safe Transport for Kids on Ambulances“), and 2 additional years refining the results, NHTSA has released the official:
The working group outlined 5 potential child transport “Situations” (see chart below) and for each described their “Ideal” solution – the best practice recommendation for safe a safe transport for each situation. They also presented an “If the Ideal is not Practical or Achievable” alternative – basically an “acceptable” backup plan.
They also came up with guidelines to assist EMS providers in selecting a child restraint system – particularly important because due to the lack of regulation and testing requirements specific to ground ambulances, many of the available child restraint devices were not designed for use in ambulances, some were tested to automotive standards and others were not tested at all.
In the end, the ultimate goal of ALL the recommendations: Prevent forward motion/ejection, secure the torso, and protect the head, neck, and spine of all children transported in emergency ground ambulances.
In short – transport these children safely.
We know that since the adoption of “mandatory use laws” in the U.S. for child safety restraints in automobiles, that thousands of children’s lives have been saved. Yet for years we have continued to allow children to be transported unrestrained on ambulances. With this report, we have finally taken a step in the right direction…
“It is hoped that the recommendations provided in this report will address the lack of consistent standards or protocols among EMS and child passenger safety professionals in the United States regarding how to most safely transport children in ground ambulances from the scene of a traffic crash or medical emergency to a hospital or other facility. It should be noted that the expectation is that States, localities, associations, and EMS providers will implement these recommendations to improve the safe transportation of children in emergency ground ambulances when responding to calls encountered in the course of day-to-day operations of EMS providers. In addition, it is hoped that EMS providers will be better prepared to safely transport children in emergency ground ambulances when faced with disaster and mass casualty situations”.
…. Amen to that !!
1. Notice published by NHTSA of Public Meeting on August 5th, 2010 to discuss draft version Recommendations for Safe Transport of Children on Ground Ambulance Vehicles: Federal Register, July 19, 2010,
2 & 3. Working Group Best-Practice Recommendations for the Safe Transportation of Children in Emergency Ground Ambulances: NHTSA / USDOT, September 2012
4. “EMS to Your Rescue?” Int’l Forum on Traffic Records & Hwy Safety Info. Systems – Levick N, July, 2008Pin It
This is clearly over-due ! ! The sooner the better ! !
As a nurse, I have ridden ambulances that do not have a way to secure small children and infants. I strongly support this necessary improvement to our EMS system.
Parents – as well as society – ought to know that injured or sick children will be safely transported in an ambulance.Flag Comment