Led by the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) on behalf of all UK ambulance services, #SafeInTheBack is designed to highlight the serious implications of not wearing seatbelts or harnessing patients properly in the back of ambulance vehicles.
Incidents have been identified across the country of road traffic collisions (RTCs) involving ambulances that have resulted in casualties or fatalities of staff and patients.
The issue has been discussed in national ambulance forums and one of the safety aspects considered was the tendency for ambulance staff across the UK to not always wear seat belts and / or to safely secure their patients in the back of ambulance vehicles.
In late 2022, AACE undertook a survey of frontline staff across UK ambulance services to capture experiences and opinions of the current practice in relation to the wearing of seat belts and application of harnesses in the back of ambulances. It wanted to better understand the reasons why, on occasions, seatbelts and restraints may not be applied and to identify how safety can be improved in this respect.
Some of the key findings showed:
- Many staff did not know that it was the driver’s ultimate responsibility to ensure that all staff and patients in the vehicle were wearing seatbelts / harnesses before setting off.
- A high proportion of staff did not wear a seat belt during any part of their most recent journey in an ambulance.
- A relatively low percentage of staff wore seat belts during their entire most recent journey in an ambulance.
Put simply, it is the law that anybody travelling in the back of an ambulance MUST wear a seatbelt, the only exception being the specific times when a patient is receiving clinical care from the staff member concerned, which should be a rare occurrence. Once that care has been delivered the staff member is legally required to then re-engage their seatbelt to continue the journey.
So please, whether you are a staff member or patient, make sure you stay #SafeInTheBack and wear your seatbelt in an ambulance.