Ambulance Specs

A facebook follower recently posted the following on the Happy Medic Page:

“I recently got involved in specifications for 2 new ambulances…any suggestions out there?”

Well, are there?

This is what social media is about folks, being able to spread an idea, issue or question far and wide quickly to get a wide variety of responses.

If I was on the committee to spec new rigs I’d have a few requests for sure.

  1. Larger area behind the front seats so night crews could recline a bit and have room to store their coolers and jackets, and packpacks etc.
  2. Plugs in said larger area for crew to run laptops and plug in other peripherals
  3. A compartmentalization layout designed by actual practitioners so that I don’t have to stand up from the airway chair to reach my airway supplies for example.
  4. Suspensions that last more than 6 months.
  5. Warning lights that can be seen when the back doors are open.
  6. GPS
  7. Because my system is limited by height since 2 of our ER entrances are underground, I can’t get a taller rig, but it’d be nice.
  8. If you’re a rural FD EMS, what about extra room for turnouts and airpacks, perhaps even a CAFS?

What are you looking for in a new ambulance?

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61 thoughts on “Ambulance Specs”

  1. Consideration taken for height AND width limits (We have small old roads lined by cars all the time. 3 point turns are sometimes impossible and I don’t even want to know what getting an engine up some of these roads would be like. Bigger is not always better)

    Passage between the cab and patient compartment larger than a tiny window and a door that closes this off with a window in it (had it in my last ambulance and LOVED it. It was behind the “Captain’s chair” in the pt compartment and made conversations with more than 2 people in a crew great.

  2. Consideration taken for height AND width limits (We have small old roads lined by cars all the time. 3 point turns are sometimes impossible and I don’t even want to know what getting an engine up some of these roads would be like. Bigger is not always better)

    Passage between the cab and patient compartment larger than a tiny window and a door that closes this off with a window in it (had it in my last ambulance and LOVED it. It was behind the “Captain’s chair” in the pt compartment and made conversations with more than 2 people in a crew great.

  3. Bucket seats with 5-point restraint harnesses, facing either forwards or backwards. Recessed grab rails in the ceiling. Trash and sharps containers reachable from all seats, along with the heat and lighting controls. Bracket for the monitor, everything else in a solid cabinet or behind webbing. Padding on any unused wall surface. O2 outlet in the ceiling. interior/exterior access to C-spine and splinting equipment (except the boards, obviously).

    That’s a start. I’ll come back when I remember the rest of my list…

  4. Bucket seats with 5-point restraint harnesses, facing either forwards or backwards. Recessed grab rails in the ceiling. Trash and sharps containers reachable from all seats, along with the heat and lighting controls. Bracket for the monitor, everything else in a solid cabinet or behind webbing. Padding on any unused wall surface. O2 outlet in the ceiling. interior/exterior access to C-spine and splinting equipment (except the boards, obviously).

    That’s a start. I’ll come back when I remember the rest of my list…

  5. Forward or rear-ward facing seats to replace the bench, outlets in cabinets to accomodate pumps, fluid warmers, vent/CPAP, etc. integrated Child’s seat into Capitan’s chair, Chevrons on the back and side door, LED lights to reduce power usage.

    1. I’d rather see Ferno Pedi-Mates on every truck instead. The integrated seat prevents any provider from being belted anywhere hear the patient.

  6. Forward or rear-ward facing seats to replace the bench, outlets in cabinets to accomodate pumps, fluid warmers, vent/CPAP, etc. integrated Child’s seat into Capitan’s chair, Chevrons on the back and side door, LED lights to reduce power usage.

    1. I’d rather see Ferno Pedi-Mates on every truck instead. The integrated seat prevents any provider from being belted anywhere hear the patient.

  7. A patient compartment that can be cleaned with a water hose. No small crack for blood, brain or whatev to get stuck in.

    May sound crazy, but a four seated front cab? For preceptee, nurses.. And with the spare place you can a) recline the front seats, b) have more than enough place for the turnout gear, jacket, lunch, laptop, and any essential material not dispensed by the employer.

    a plug in bracket for the monitor, relaying the infos on a screen larger than the 4″ Zoll.

    and we have the Rumbler siren on our new rigs.. a must!!

  8. A patient compartment that can be cleaned with a water hose. No small crack for blood, brain or whatev to get stuck in.

    May sound crazy, but a four seated front cab? For preceptee, nurses.. And with the spare place you can a) recline the front seats, b) have more than enough place for the turnout gear, jacket, lunch, laptop, and any essential material not dispensed by the employer.

    a plug in bracket for the monitor, relaying the infos on a screen larger than the 4″ Zoll.

    and we have the Rumbler siren on our new rigs.. a must!!

  9. Hmmm…programmable environmental controls; full night-time conspicuity package so you can’t fail to recognize there is an ambulance parked at scene (LED track outlining the vehicle?); easy-decon interior; shelving designed for easy access without transfer-contaminating everything we touch with our gloves, networked IT system to collate all patient data into a run report while allowing us to stream it to the receiving ED, a workable attendant restraint system; oh, and while I’m dreaming, can somebody install a robotic medication dispenser to preload my drugs to the exact dosage I ask – like those automatic bartenders?

  10. Hmmm…programmable environmental controls; full night-time conspicuity package so you can’t fail to recognize there is an ambulance parked at scene (LED track outlining the vehicle?); easy-decon interior; shelving designed for easy access without transfer-contaminating everything we touch with our gloves, networked IT system to collate all patient data into a run report while allowing us to stream it to the receiving ED, a workable attendant restraint system; oh, and while I’m dreaming, can somebody install a robotic medication dispenser to preload my drugs to the exact dosage I ask – like those automatic bartenders?

  11. For starters if these are ALS rigs, no vans!! Unfortunately we have quite a few ALS vans in our service as do other services. They’re not very friendly when working on a non-critical patient, forget one that’s about to code. No ALS rig should be a van, ever.

    More counter space in the back, it’s seriously lacking in a lot of rigs.

    Swivel jump seat. I absolutely LOVE this feature in our boxes!

    Mounted IV wall or drawer.

    CUP HOLDERS!

    Bigger cabs.

    Now, keep in mind, I’m posting this from my rig. My feet are in spilled coffee and all of our crap is jam packed btwn the two seats. We have no station to go back to so we’re here our entire shift.

  12. For starters if these are ALS rigs, no vans!! Unfortunately we have quite a few ALS vans in our service as do other services. They’re not very friendly when working on a non-critical patient, forget one that’s about to code. No ALS rig should be a van, ever.

    More counter space in the back, it’s seriously lacking in a lot of rigs.

    Swivel jump seat. I absolutely LOVE this feature in our boxes!

    Mounted IV wall or drawer.

    CUP HOLDERS!

    Bigger cabs.

    Now, keep in mind, I’m posting this from my rig. My feet are in spilled coffee and all of our crap is jam packed btwn the two seats. We have no station to go back to so we’re here our entire shift.

  13. Hand rails that run the length of the box. Also some sort of retention system that allows the crew to move around inside the vehicle while keeping them from flying in the event of an accident.

    I’ve been in enough accidents in ambulances that I want something to keep me in place.

  14. Hand rails that run the length of the box. Also some sort of retention system that allows the crew to move around inside the vehicle while keeping them from flying in the event of an accident.

    I’ve been in enough accidents in ambulances that I want something to keep me in place.

  15. Brackets for anything that has to be out like monitors.

    Bucket seats that can be adjusted left/right/forward/back and can be swiveled.

    As mentioned before, some extra cab space for reclining seats and storage.

    Electronic PCR docking port which includes a printer.

    Pharmaceutical fridge.

    Emergency start battery

    One way windows for patient privacy.

    Electronic pressure sensor for on board oxygen tank to facilitate monitoring how full the tank is.

    Back secondary emergency lights in amber only. I’d rather have oncoming cars thinking I’m a tow truck with nothing interesting to see than anything else.

    Roll open side door to reduce side footprint.

    Wench and ramp system to facilitate loading of bariatric patients.

  16. Brackets for anything that has to be out like monitors.

    Bucket seats that can be adjusted left/right/forward/back and can be swiveled.

    As mentioned before, some extra cab space for reclining seats and storage.

    Electronic PCR docking port which includes a printer.

    Pharmaceutical fridge.

    Emergency start battery

    One way windows for patient privacy.

    Electronic pressure sensor for on board oxygen tank to facilitate monitoring how full the tank is.

    Back secondary emergency lights in amber only. I’d rather have oncoming cars thinking I’m a tow truck with nothing interesting to see than anything else.

    Roll open side door to reduce side footprint.

    Wench and ramp system to facilitate loading of bariatric patients.

  17. a mounted flat screen tv with dvd player in the back for transporting kids and a couple spongebob dvds. We don’t have this but I know services that do and say it works wonders!

  18. a mounted flat screen tv with dvd player in the back for transporting kids and a couple spongebob dvds. We don’t have this but I know services that do and say it works wonders!

  19. just convert our rigs into shorter versions of semi’s so we can have all the space we need for all the equip we need, plus an exterior compartment for all the batteries and inverters we need to power the equip in the back, the c-spine equip gets its own compartment, oh! and access to these exterior compartments from the inside of the patient care area.

  20. just convert our rigs into shorter versions of semi’s so we can have all the space we need for all the equip we need, plus an exterior compartment for all the batteries and inverters we need to power the equip in the back, the c-spine equip gets its own compartment, oh! and access to these exterior compartments from the inside of the patient care area.

  21. I don’t know how functional it could be since I’ve never actually had the chance to use it but drawers have always been a design feature I’d love in the patient compartment… You could UAE a drawer for different things like a med drawer a iv start drawer eta put them low enough so they could be opened and reached with ease from
    Any position it would be a good way to keep low profile and supplies within an organized space.

  22. I don’t know how functional it could be since I’ve never actually had the chance to use it but drawers have always been a design feature I’d love in the patient compartment… You could UAE a drawer for different things like a med drawer a iv start drawer eta put them low enough so they could be opened and reached with ease from
    Any position it would be a good way to keep low profile and supplies within an organized space.

      1. …because ambulances are only used for emergencies?

        …because every patient who has a legitimate need for an ambulance due to an acute need has to be hemmed and hawed over for the entire trip?

        Your patient has a broken leg (legitimate use of an ambulance as a broken leg presents problems with getting into and out of the back of a vehicle). The patient is examined, leg is splinted, and pain medication is given. Does this patient still require an ambulance, and if so, emergency transport?

        Isn’t distraction a good source of non-pharmaceutical pain management? Would music, even if cheesy elevator style music, provide at least some distraction?

      1. …because ambulances are only used for emergencies?

        …because every patient who has a legitimate need for an ambulance due to an acute need has to be hemmed and hawed over for the entire trip?

        Your patient has a broken leg (legitimate use of an ambulance as a broken leg presents problems with getting into and out of the back of a vehicle). The patient is examined, leg is splinted, and pain medication is given. Does this patient still require an ambulance, and if so, emergency transport?

        Isn’t distraction a good source of non-pharmaceutical pain management? Would music, even if cheesy elevator style music, provide at least some distraction?

  23. An ambulance built on a Winnebago chassis. Bunks in the overhead, kitchen, TV, bathroom. That way wherever where are, we’re always in quarters. We send fire trucks to EMS calls…is it really that much of a stretch?

  24. An ambulance built on a Winnebago chassis. Bunks in the overhead, kitchen, TV, bathroom. That way wherever where are, we’re always in quarters. We send fire trucks to EMS calls…is it really that much of a stretch?

  25. Above and beyond what has been posted above (some great thoughts)

    – possibility of side/angulated siren speakers for more safety during intersection crossings (a thought, would need some research)
    – Siren use to be entirely controlled by a foot switch in order to minimise hands of steering wheel
    – standardized interior with all locker contents written on outside
    – all vital equipment in reach during transport minimising the need to unbuckle en route.

    1. I know Whelen brand sirens are set up to be controlled through the horn (switches from wail to whelp) and I always assumed that this was a standard option. However, I’ve also come to realize that most of the times I observe emergency vehicles constantly cycling through tones, it’s being done to cover for poor driving techniques than actual effectiveness.

  26. Above and beyond what has been posted above (some great thoughts)

    – possibility of side/angulated siren speakers for more safety during intersection crossings (a thought, would need some research)
    – Siren use to be entirely controlled by a foot switch in order to minimise hands of steering wheel
    – standardized interior with all locker contents written on outside
    – all vital equipment in reach during transport minimising the need to unbuckle en route.

    1. I know Whelen brand sirens are set up to be controlled through the horn (switches from wail to whelp) and I always assumed that this was a standard option. However, I’ve also come to realize that most of the times I observe emergency vehicles constantly cycling through tones, it’s being done to cover for poor driving techniques than actual effectiveness.

  27. Visibility is a must; chevrons on the back and the inside of the doors. I like the NFPA standard that automatically puts the warning lights in secondary mode when the unit is in park (so many people don’t even know what that switch is for.) In our units, our suction is a combination mounted/portable. It is self-contained unit that is mounted on a charger unit on the Action Area, but is easily removable and taken to the patient. MONITOR MOUNT – nothing like a potential 15-lb missile lying around (and yes, I do use the bench seatbelts to secure it.) The new four point harnesses are great and really do work well IMHO; it amazes me how many of them are taught and folded just like the day they were delivered…???! Some of the remounted units are coming with oxygen plumed to the ceiling – a wonderful idea to avoid a tangle of hoses/wires…except when mgmt won’t buy a dial-regulator to go on it. (All we have are the gravity-ball regulators on the wall.) Oh, and multiple oxygen regulators, one on each side. That has come in very handy on patients where you might need to change oxygen delivery systems. A roll-up door for the cabinet just in front of the side door – regular cabinet doors are definitely not user-friendly sometimes. For those of you using Toughbooks or other computers for ePCR’s, we have a AC charger mounted in the tunnel between the box/cab and a long cord that reaches to the front seats and into the box allowing the computer to be charged while doing Pt care. We are starting to transition to more of a System Status Mgmt distribution of our units, and that requires more time in the truck. Thankfully all of our new Type III units have decent reclining seats in the cab. For the most part, our units are set up pretty well.

  28. Visibility is a must; chevrons on the back and the inside of the doors. I like the NFPA standard that automatically puts the warning lights in secondary mode when the unit is in park (so many people don’t even know what that switch is for.) In our units, our suction is a combination mounted/portable. It is self-contained unit that is mounted on a charger unit on the Action Area, but is easily removable and taken to the patient. MONITOR MOUNT – nothing like a potential 15-lb missile lying around (and yes, I do use the bench seatbelts to secure it.) The new four point harnesses are great and really do work well IMHO; it amazes me how many of them are taught and folded just like the day they were delivered…???! Some of the remounted units are coming with oxygen plumed to the ceiling – a wonderful idea to avoid a tangle of hoses/wires…except when mgmt won’t buy a dial-regulator to go on it. (All we have are the gravity-ball regulators on the wall.) Oh, and multiple oxygen regulators, one on each side. That has come in very handy on patients where you might need to change oxygen delivery systems. A roll-up door for the cabinet just in front of the side door – regular cabinet doors are definitely not user-friendly sometimes. For those of you using Toughbooks or other computers for ePCR’s, we have a AC charger mounted in the tunnel between the box/cab and a long cord that reaches to the front seats and into the box allowing the computer to be charged while doing Pt care. We are starting to transition to more of a System Status Mgmt distribution of our units, and that requires more time in the truck. Thankfully all of our new Type III units have decent reclining seats in the cab. For the most part, our units are set up pretty well.

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