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Negligent ambulance drivers can hurt more than heal

Pennsylvania ambulance drivers have a duty to transport victims to a local hospital so they can receive the necessary treatment to recover from their injuries. Drivers try to go as fast as they can so the patient can recover sooner, but their actions can put themselves, the victim and others in danger if they are not careful.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates there to be around 4,500 vehicle crashes involving an ambulance per year, with around 34 percent resulting in serious injuries. It puts far more people at risk than a regular car crash given the ambulance’s structure and who is inside it.

The EMS providers

The NHTSA study found that over 80 percent of doctors or emergency medical service (EMS) providers do not have restraints while the ambulance is moving. Most of them likely do not buckle up to tend to the victim’s injuries.

A study shows that nearly 8 percent of EMS worker injuries come from motor vehicle incidents, with the surrounding medical equipment and lack of restraints and causing further considerable harm for the victims.

The patients

The EMS workers are not the only ones who lack restraints during an ambulance crash. The NHTSA study found that only a third of patients have restrains in these instances and nearly half fall out of their cots.

An example of this can be seen last year when a Dunkirk man died after the ambulance he was in crashed into a nearby ditch. The man’s family sued the driver and the company, who defended themselves by claiming the man refused to wear a seat belt and his death was unavoidable. Clients who face this defense have to consider if the workers chose to offer them seat belts in the back and if getting to the hospital faster and without a crash could have saved the victim’s life.

The other drivers

According to the NHTSA’s findings, about 33 people die from ambulance accidents per year, and nearly two-thirds of them are the other vehicle. This doesn’t come off as a surprise given that ambulances go at higher speeds and have a larger size and durability than most cars.

Drivers are required to slow down and pull over when the ambulance has their lights and sirens on indicating an emergency, but ambulance drivers can still be negligent and cause serious damage. Last month, an ambulance driver in Lebanon County was not paying attention to the tractor slowing down in front of her, resulting in a collision. While the tractor driver received no injuries from the accident, this would likely be different had it been a standard car.

While ambulance drivers do have a responsibility to transport patients as quickly and patiently as possible, they must also be mindful of how their driving can impact everyone in their vehicle and the other Pennsylvania motorists around them.

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