Seat Belt Use in the Ambulance Patient Compartment by Emergency Medical Services Professionals Is Low Regardless of Patient Presence, Seating Position, or Patient Acuity

Inconsistent use of seat belts in an ambulance may increase the risk of injury for emergency medical services (EMS) professionals and their patients. The objectives were to: (1) describe the prevalence of seat belt usage based on patient acuity and seat location, and (2) assess the association between EMS-related characteristics and consistent use of a seat belt. The authors administered a cross-sectional electronic questionnaire to a random sample of 20,000 nationally-certified EMS professionals, measuring seat belt use in each seating location of an ambulance during transport of stable, critical, or no patients. The authors included practicing, non-military, emergency medical technicians or higher who reported working in ambulances. The authors used multivariable logistic regression models to estimate the odds of consistent (≥50% of the time) use of seat belts for the rear-facing jump seat and right-sided crew bench during transport of stable and critical patients. A total of 1431 respondents were included in the analysis. Patient compartment seat belt use varied with the highest use in forward-facing seats when no patient was being transported (59.8%) and lowest use in the left-side “CPR” seat with a critical patient (9.4%). Only 40.2% of respondents reported an agency policy regarding seat belt use while riding in the patient compartment. In all multivariable logistic regression models, advanced life support level certification and fewer years of experience were associated with decreased odds of consistent seat belt use. An agency seat belt policy was strongly associated with increased odds of seat belt use in the patient compartment. Seat belt use was low and varied by seating location and patient acuity in the patient compartment of an ambulance. EMS organizations should consider primary prevention approaches of provider education, improved ambulance designs, enactment and enforcement of policies to improve seat belt compliance and provider safety.


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  • Accession Number: 01729815
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jan 30 2020 4:57PM