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Justin Eberly | July 2, 2019
(3 min read) The sheep-skin strap covers may “look cute and seem soft”, but a Georgia mother now cautions the use of aftermarket products with car seats in recent viral social media post. Cruising to the grocery store was a weekly car ride for the mother and her two month old daughter. In March 2018, the family car was involved in a rollover collision on an interstate highway. The infant was ejected from the car seat. Immediately following the collision, it was discovered that the straps were tight and the car seat remained intact with the base. The mother has only one plausible explanation for the ejection of her precious child from the car seat—the infant’s t-shirt swiftly gliding against the sheep-skin, rendering the safety straps useless.
Following the collision, the mother attended a seminar on child passenger safety. The seminar detailed the best practices and common concerns witnessed by Child Passenger Safety Technicians (CPST) nationwide. A look at the manufacturers’ user manual, industry standards and regulations proved be a “real eye opener”.
An EMS organization may be tempted to create a home-made fix in order to realize short-term solution or financial savings. The decision to utilize a home-made product or alter an existing product may increase the risk or liability faced by an EMS organization in the event of a malfunction. The design, fabrication and testing of vehicles and equipment is best left to the professionals.
Is your home-made creation crash worthy? Has your alteration voided the manufacturer warranty? An EMS organization must consider the significance of manufacturer specifications, industry standards and regulations in every aspect of its operations.
Emergency vehicle manufacturers subject their products to a series of crash tests. Within recent years, the rigor of crash test standards have contributed to safer ambulances on our nation’s roadways. Similarly, fixed equipment aboard an ambulance is subjected to similar testing for durability and safety. As emergency vehicle manufacturers produce safer features, EMS organizations must not put a brake on the progress with safety-compromising shortcuts.
Portable equipment is designed and tested using specific restraint system configurations. The product should always be used and maintained in accordance with instructions detailed in the user manual. Removing a component may reduce the effectiveness of the entire product, posing a risk to personnel and/or patient safety. While a manufacturer may provide guidance to make minor adjustments in specific circumstances, improper adjustment or reconfiguration may negatively impact personnel and/or patient safety.
A seemingly insignificant decision to implement a home-made fix or alter an existing product could result in a terrible loss with significant liability. Don’t learn the hard way! A shortcut is not worth the short-term financial savings. The decision would be shameful if harm was caused to a patient or EMS personnel as a result. An EMS organization must understand the contents of the manufacturer-provided user manual, industry standards and regulations which impact their operations. Be confident in your vehicles, fixed equipment and portable equipment will perform safely when it matters most.
Justin M. Eberly is an Education and Training Specialist for VFIS, a subsidiary of the Glatfelter Insurance Group, responsible for the national delivery of educational and training programs, curriculum development, and information analysis. Eberly is an active Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and volunteer firefighter in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. He actively serves on the safety committee for an EMS agency. As an educator, he has served as adjunct faculty for emergency services at two technical colleges serving the South Central Pennsylvania region. Previously, he served as the assistant chief of a combination volunteer/career basic life support ambulance service. Eberly has earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Information Technology for Business Education from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania. He expects to graduate in mid-2018 with a Masters in Public Administration with an emphasis in Emergency Services Management at Columbia Southern University.
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