The EMS profession has a tremendous responsibility. The safe transport of children by ambulance to hospitals has always been an EMS priority. The lack of guidelines to address that priority has been a problem for years, but there have been no crash standards for child-transport equipment. Professional EMS personnel rely on manufacturers’ guidelines; those are the only standards upon which they’ve been able to depend.
This “multi-faceted problem” has been pursued without evidence-based standards until now. In March 2017, the new Safe Transport of Children by EMS Interim Guidance was released by NASEMSO (National Association of State EMS Officials). The organization will be seeking funding to conduct crash-testing research and to develop standards. Until that time, the Interim Guidance guidelines can be followed – based on what we now know – to minimize the risk of additional injury to children in ambulances.
The Guidance includes the following directives:
- EMS agencies should develop specific policies/processes that address forward motion and possible ejection of children, with a focus on:
- Securing the torso should be a primary focus as well as support for the head, neck and spine.
- Unrestrained child transport is prohibited.
- All mounting systems should be tested in accordance with the Society of Automotive Engineers standard SAE J3043.
- All equipment for children of any age or size should cover 5-99-pound weights.
- All equipment buyers need to request testing information from their equipment manufacturers.
NASEMSO announced March 21, 2017, that the ACR-4, by Quantum EMS Products, is the only device on the market that can fully restrain all children from 4 to 99 pounds during ambulance transportation. This next evolution of pediatric transport equipment not only offers maximum safety but also allows healthcare professionals to perform medical procedures while underway. According to Kris Bordnick, Vice President at Quantum EMS Products, the all-in-one ACR4 “ . . . will allow for a broader range of pediatric patients to be restrained correctly.”