Fatal New York Ambulance Accident
A 27-year-old female Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) [the victim] died when the ambulance she was working in struck a support column for an elevated train track. The victim had been riding unrestrained in the patient compartment while attending to a patient during a non-emergency medical transport. The ambulance was traveling along a two-lane city street when it drifted across the roadway through an oncoming traffic lane and struck the support column. During the collision, the EMT/driver who was also riding unrestrained, sustained minor injuries from contact with the dashboard and deployed air bag. The victim and the patient struck the front of the patient compartment.
The EMT/driver and the patient were transported by ambulances to a hospital where they were admitted. The victim was transported by ambulance to a hospital where she was pronounced dead. The employer was an independent ambulance service which had been in business for 45 years. The service had 120 employees, including 85 EMTs and 16 paramedics. The employer estimated that approximately 18% of their ambulance responses were emergency calls, while the rest were to transport patients to and from the hospital or their personal residence. The two-lane street on which the ambulance was traveling was marked with a double solid yellow center line. The elevated train track was supported by H-section steel columns approximately 14 by 14 inches set on concrete footings in the crash site. The street has a posted speed limit of 30 mph. The weather on the day of the incident was cloudy, and the street was dry.
The EMT/driver had been with the company for approximately 14 months, 10 of those months as a driver, and had completed a State offered emergency vehicle operators course (EVOC). The victim was a certified EMT also with approximately 14 months of experience with the company. The victim and the EMT/driver were working an 8-hour shift, and they had completed three ambulance responses before this incident. This was the company’s first workplace fatality.
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