AVC Helmet (Ambulance Vehicle Crew) for Paramedics & EMT’s

Four in Five Medics Are Injured On The Job; More than one in two (52%) have been assaulted by a patient, and One in Two (50%) have been exposed to an infectious disease*; EMS personnel in the United States have an estimated fatality rate of 12.7 per 100,000 workers, more than twice the national average. Most EMS Line of Duty deaths occur in ambulance accidents. Every other type of emergency occupation has a protective headgear standard except EMS. *According to the NAEMT

We have been working for over a year on an all-new EMS Helmet design. It started out the traditional route, considering evolutions of existing helmet designs. We looked at Flight Helmets, Combat Vehicle Crew Helmets, and various Rescue Helmets. I studied every relevant headgear protection standard, and evaluated dozens of designs from several different manufacturers. Nothing seemed to be quite right for EMS. Rescue Helmets are simply not designed for motor vehicle speed impacts. They tend to be a lot like Fire Helmets or Riot Helmets. They are pretty thick, heavy and hot. Most are made with a one-size fit all design. That basically means everybody wears an Extra Large helmet, with different liners.

EMS personnel work in some tight and awkward spaces. Every single inch of extra bulk matters, and so does comfort. EMS providers are not likely to benefit from a helmet they won’t wear. So even though we saw promise in several designs from highly reputable manufacturers, we eventually decided a fresh approach was required. Truthfully I would have stuck with a Rescue Helmet based approach if I had not sought advice from Jim Love at AMR. Jim’s an experienced Safety & Risk Manager. He convinced me that wearer comfort would be critical in gaining acceptance for any kind of Ambulance Crew Helmet. He also convinced me that we needed a helmet produced in different sizes. If the helmet was made in different sizes it could be much smaller. 

We concluded that the D.O.T FMVSS218 Standard was the most appropriate one to use. It is designed to protect the wearer in a mobile medical, motor-vehicle work environment. The DOT standard is endorsed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission for all “Wheeled, Large Motor” vehicle activities*. It is the only CPSC approved standard that permits access to the ears, essential for diagnostics and communications. *http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/349.pdf. Besides, the D.O.T. has a longstanding and respected partnership with EMS here in the U.S. The big question was, could we produce an EMS helmet built to the D.O.T. Standard, that was lightweight, comfortable, and form fit? I think we did.

The resulting AllMed® (Ambulance Vehicle Crew) AVC Helmet™ features a Kevlar® and Carbon Fiber high-pressure composite shell. The high-tech shell is combined with a high-density foam impact liner. It features an optional light, reflective trim, a one-piece visor, and enlarged ear openings for use of a stethoscope. The AVC Helmet offers EMS providers a true EMS Helmet, designed to provide a responsible level of protection in the work environment of a Paramedic. Ambulance Crew Helmets are one piece of personal protective equipment (PPE), which could offer a real potential to reduce on the job fatalities in EMS.

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Note 6.10.2011 for those unaware, the AllMed AVC Helmet was discontinued through no fault of their own. EMS Professionals still need and deserve head protection they can’t get, built for what they do.


About Dan White

I'm a retired Paramedic and EMS Instructor with 35 years EMS and emergency medical product experience. I love canoes, cars and EMS. I have written a lot about EMS Technology on the Paramedic Blog, the Insights on Innovation column for EMS1.com, on AmbulanceWorld.com and Multibriefs.com. I can be reached directly at 573-240-0002.
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8 Responses to AVC Helmet (Ambulance Vehicle Crew) for Paramedics & EMT’s

  1. Robin says:

    That\’s a fantastic helmet!  Would you mind if I come back to your blog and leave a comment or two occasionally?  I\’m an EMT from PA…

  2. Dan says:

    Sure, stop back and post anytime. You are a PA EMT from Kansas. I am a PA Medic from Missouri, who recently moved back to the Midwest – weird :>)

  3. Nae says:

    Dan ~
    I sure hope that you have been enjoying the summer in the midwest.  Sounds like it is hot there lately!
    Have we talked restraining patients???  How and when?  What is your bottom line?  I\’ve been told to "just get out of the back" when the police officers arrive, but until then … how do I help my ALS?
    God bless you and keep you,
    Nae  :o)

  4. Dan says:

    First, ALWAYS carry a radio when
    away from the ambulance. The best thing you can do to help your crewmembers is
    to protect yourself. Particularly if your ALS is male, they will feel obligated
    to protect you. They will put themselves at more risk then they normally would
    or should, in an effort to assist you. So the best thing you can do is make
    sure your ALS knows that you are OK.


    Should a problem develop in the
    back during transport, call for your driver to stop. I’ve always also had a
    hand signal with my driver for FAST STOP. (Clenched fist pulled down like air
    horn truck signal). If a guy tries to get off the cot and take a swing, a
    clenched fist yanked down will get him a fast return to horizontal.


    Explain one last time you are here
    to help the patient – BUT – you are not going to force anyone to receive care
    they do not want. If the patient wants to leave your care, promptly pull the
    heck over and show them the door. If on a scene location, get yourself clear of
    danger and radio all concerned that you are safe. That way nobody gets hurt
    trying to be a hero.


    The restrained patient goes with the agency that
    has primary responsibility (IE: Who Restrained Them). If a Police Officer is
    required with the patient, then they need to go in a Police vehicle. Period.
    It’s kind of like Pregnant. They are or they are not. If they are in Police
    custody, then they need to get taken away in a Squad Car or Paddy Wagon. Resist
    the idea of taking them in your ambulance with a law enforcement officer on
    board. This is a situation where you are no longer in charge of your work
    environment. Me, I have enough trouble explaining things I’m entirely responsible
    for that sometimes turn out bad.

  5. Braden says:

    Those stats on Ambulance officer mortality is disturbing. If ambulance "road" accidents are that common, try to drive more defensively. i.e. complete stop at red lights, slow down when on opposite side of road or more congested areas, leave 3 second gap from car infront. I don\’t think a helmet to be worn inside the ambulance is practicle and may encourage more risk taking driving.

  6. Dan says:

    Braden,I agree with your defensive driving comments, but find it interesting you see no application of crew helmets when your blog features a picture of you wearing one :>)

  7. Unknown says:

    The Allmed helmet is less than ideal. There is no scientific testing of the helmet in a ambulance environment, it has no flash protection, and poorly designed visor. The helmet was hot and uncomfortable to wear in the patient compartment. Sizing was a real problem as the provided tape measure and sizing guide failed in proper sizing 50% of the time. We had to end our evaluation of the product when Allmed could not provide the proper sizes and did not respond to our emails.

  8. Dan says:

    While I certainly appreciate your comments, I cannot fully
    agree with your conclusions. This first generation product has been
    discontinued pending re-design. We were forced to terminate with our contractor
    in part due to issues you pointed out.

    On our "science", I have to point out that the
    performance standard we selected is the best studied one in the world used in
    motor vehicles, the DOT FMVSS 218. A prospective, randomized, double-blinded study
    would cost millions and take many years. If you think the Paramedics we serve
    should go unprotected and wait, then we have a different opinion. We are sorry
    you think a helmet lined with CoolMax weighing less than 2 pounds is too heavy
    and hot, but our field evaluators all concluded it was lighter and more
    comfortable than any other helmet. Sizing guides are just that, guides – you
    simply must try on any size-specific helmet to get a proper fit. Your comments
    on the Visor are well taken, and this aspect has been completely re-designed.
    We have also upgraded the edge trim, light option, retention buckle, and shell,
    along with doing away with paint in favor of gel-coat color that will resist
    scratches better. 

    Yes, the first generation AVC Helmet was not perfect,
    -but hey; it was the first helmet in the world designed specifically for EMS.
    I\’ll have my first prototypes of the second generation in about 2 weeks, with
    our first production run tentatively scheduled for delivery by September 1.

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