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Ambulances have the right of way, but they still get into crashes

On Behalf of | Oct 1, 2020 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

While many people understand that medical errors happen during surgeries or treatment plans, there are other kinds of patient injuries that can occur. For example, some patients are badly hurt due to ambulance collisions.

Ambulance collisions happen more often than many people believe. Frustratingly, they are sometimes fatal, leading to severe consequences for patients, those traveling with them, paramedics and drivers.

Ambulances: The Right of Way

In most places, people should be aware that ambulances have the right of way when their lights and sirens are on. These emergency vehicles may go through red lights, yellow lights, stop signs and other traffic controls so long as they do so safely.

Unfortunately, the reality is that not all drivers pull over or stop what they’re doing when they hear sirens or see lights. As a result, ambulances may end up involved in collisions.

Inside an ambulance, the patient’s gurney may not be completely locked into place. They’re designed to be rolled in and out of the vehicle quickly, so while straps, like seat belts, are used across the patient’s shoulders and lower body and the gurney itself is also strapped in, this may not be as secure as sitting in a standard seat during a collision.

Additionally, the emergency medical technicians may be performing medical care on the individual while the vehicle is in motion. A sudden collision may badly injure or kill an EMT who is not wearing a seat belt, and the patient may also be impacted by debris or as a result of the treatment not being completed.

In a 30 mph head-on crash, the patient may move forward between 14 and 30 inches, based on studies by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, even when strapped into the gurney. However, that study showed that the force of that impact is actually enough to cause the patient’s cot to break free, entering into the captain’s chair or jump seat. It’s a hazard that is shocking to many, but it’s one that shows how dangerous it really can be for an ambulance to get into a crash.

Surviving an ambulance crash isn’t easy. If you do but suffered severe injuries, remember that you may be able to seek compensation for what you’ve been through.