Medical Practice

Medical Aspects of Ambulance Design

Br Med J 1972; 3 doi: (Published 02 September 1972) Cite this as: Br Med J 1972;3:574
  1. Roger Snook


    Various observations have shown that the interior layout of many ambulances leaves much to be desired. The lighting levels are inadequate, heat loss could be prevented, vehicle identification and passage through traffic could be improved, and measurable differences exist between the ride characteristics of commercially available ambulances, a prototype purpose-built ambulance, and a private car. Moreover the condition of some patients may be affected by the motion of the vehicle either directly or indirectly. Even though they form a small percentage of the total number carried, they represent a very considerable financial risk. A personally conducted survey of ambulance chief officers showed a deep interest and involvement in the upgrading of the service with a general dissatisfaction with many of the vehicles currently available. Hence there is a market for the purpose-built ambulance, which would benefit the patient and the ambulanceman alike.

    The inadequacies of many vehicles currently in use as ambulances have been shown to work against the interests of the patient requiring life support treatment, and it is suggested that this warrants urgent attention and action. A more extensive research project involving medical observations on the supine sick and injured, attendant task performance, and instrumentation analysis of linear and angular vehicle motions should enable the harmful effects of ride motion to be identified.

    None of these investigations, however, will be of any value unless they are used in developing future ambulances. Such development must also parallel an increase in the awareness of the importance of ambulance design and its relation to the increased comfort and chance of survival of the patients carried.

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