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.