A Public Meeting on Safe Transport for Kids on Ambulances

In the Federal Register, dated July 19, 2010, a notice and invitation was posted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the Department of Transportation (NHTSA). This Thursday – August 5th – NHTSA will be hosting a Public Meeting to hear comments regarding the newly-submitted draft recommendations for the safe transport of children in emergency ground ambulances.

What wonderful news! It’s about time that positive steps are finally being taken in the effort to establish consistent Federal guidelines for the safe transport of infants and children in emergency vehicles. This is most definitely a banner day for the Emergency Medical Service (EMS).

The issue of inconsistent guidelines for child emergency transport was first highlighted in a 1998 survey of state requirements for child safety restraints in ambulances, and the resulting report was the first to identify the many variations in guidelines existing from one state to another.

The PedRESTIn 1999, a national consensus committee was convened to review EMS child transport practices. The resulting document, the “Do’s And Don’ts of Transporting Children in an Ambulance”, provided general guidance for EMS practitioners in the field. This document has remained the guide for the industry from then until now, even though protocols and practices remained inconsistent, often varied across jurisdictions and sometimes provided limited or inadequate guidance.

This problem is finally being publically recognized. The July 19th issue of the Federal Register states: “Currently 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 regarding the transportation of children in ground ambulances complicates the work of EMS professionals and may result in the improper and unsafe restraint of highly vulnerable child passengers. As a result, EMS agencies, advocates and academicians have turned to NHTSA for leadership on this issue.”

In September of 2008, in recognition of the need for improving child-oriented, safe, emergency ambulance transport, NHTSA initiated a project called: “Solutions To Safely Transport Children In Emergency Vehicles”, and formed a Working Group of experts in the field of Emergency Medical Services for the purpose of “drafting consistent national recommendations that will be embraced by local, state and national EMS organizations, enabling them to reduce the frequency of inappropriate and potentially unsafe transportation of ill, injured, or not sick/uninjured children in ground ambulances.”

In June of 2009, this website, Pediatric Safety.net was launched. This site made public awareness of the lack of safety guidelines and the use of inappropriately sized, non harness–equipped stretchers for child transport a primary concern. As a means of promoting awareness of the problem, pediatricsafety.net established a cause, ANSR (Ambulances Need Safety Regulations) for kids, which included a petition to be forwarded to each signer’s congressmen. The hope was that if enough people signed the petition, attention would force the government to play an active role in finding a viable solution to the problem.Pediatric Rapid Emergency Safe Transport (PedREST)

In its “Innovation” section, pediatricsafety.net followed the development of the PedREST, a child-size safety transport system for infants and young children. From its humble beginnings as a crayon drawing concept idea, to a video prototype and now a physical prototype, the PedREST seemed to be a credible answer to the problem. Designed by an Emergency Medical Technician, it could, with a small amount of additional design modification by a qualified engineer, become this desperately needed safety transport device.

I am the cause advocate for Pediatric Safety. Two of my daughters were key in developing the PedREST. It took 15 years to get the PedREST through the patent process and the building of a prototype. Once created, it was disheartening to realize that companies were not falling all over themselves for the opportunity to take the idea and help commercialize it, so that it could be put to use as quickly as possible. What could be more important than protecting the life of an infant or small child already in the care of the very people committed to doing just that? What was even more upsetting was the fact that, even though so many articles had been written about the need for government intervention to establish industry guidelines, nothing had been publicly introduced over all these years to show that steps were at least being taken to that end.

Statistics say it all:*

  1. Approximately 1 in 10 patient ambulance transports involve children. The result: 6 Million Children are transported by emergency medical vehicles each year
  2. 3 out of every 100 transports involve children under 5 years of age. The result: approx. 1.8 million children are transported by emergency vehicles each year
  3. 5,000 ambulance crashes per year with minor to fatal results. The result: approx. 4 child fatalities per year

I think the time has finally come for action!

  • Participate in the public hearing concerning the draft recommendations on safe transport for children on ambulances. Register for the webinar by sending an email to: sandy.sinclair@dot.gov
  • Please sign the ANSR petition and tell your congressman/woman that we require that our kids be transported safely on ambulances – anything else is unacceptable!

Help us help NHTSA pass formal regulations and guidelines to be used on local, state, and national levels to keep our kids safe when they need it the most.

With thanks from all my grandchildren, and from me.

Sandy Schnee

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About the Author

I am a former New Yorker, a new resident of Georgia, and I have three daughters, four stepsons, and six grandchildren. I’ve had a career as a musician/entertainer and educator, and have now focused my attention on this cause, which I find to be of utmost value to moms, dads, and other caregivers of children. It feels good to be able to contribute to keeping kids healthy and safe.

Comments

5 Responses to “A Public Meeting on Safe Transport for Kids on Ambulances”

  1. I sure hope I never have to experience this but it’s good to know changes are being made to make child transport easier!

    • Stefanie Zuckersazucker says:

      I agree… I can’t believe it’s taken them over 15 years to do something, but at least now there’s progress. Hopefully it won’t take them much longer to come up with the final version. 4 kids dying each year because they weren’t safely secured is just too many. Thanks!

    • Perfect Health says:

      yes, i agree with you about that

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