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Enhancing your EMS Agency’s Safety Policy

Enhancing your EMS A

The recent global outbreak of COVID-19 really highlights the need for a strict safety policy in the EMS industry. It is vital that everyone is fully equipped and prepared to handle any situation. David McGowan gives a simple guideline at reviewing and updating your safety policy below;

Executive, operation and safety leadership should make sure safety policies are reviewed annually and up-to-date. This oversight helps ensure that established safety procedures and policies are making the most impact and fostering a sustainable culture of safety.

Review Your Safety Policy Once a Year

In addition to periodic review of safety policies, it’s critical that policies are clearly understood across the organization and strictly enforced. Consider implementing an Employee Acceptance Statement that is signed by all employees. This acknowledges that everyone has read and understands the policy manual that protects the employees as well as the employer. Be sure to:

• Make policies clear, easily read and not in conflict with other policies.

• Review safety policies as part of an existing continuing education program.

• Enforce equally and fairly – across all levels and departments of the organization.

• Ensure all policies are reviewed/approved by the human resource department.

Create the Onboarding Process to Ensure Safe Drivers

Creating a comprehensive and repeatable training process will help new employees start their careers on the right foot – and instill a “safety first” approach to emergency vehicle operation.

• Hire for safety.  Check motor vehicle records and at fault crashes to determine if the candidate is too high of a risk.

• Clear Onboarding Process.  New employees must be swiftly introduced to your Safety Culture and how they are going to be held accountable to it.

• Employee Understanding of all polices is critical to ensure new employees are following your rules as well as the consequences for not adhering to them.

• Grace Period.  Provide time to evaluate and critique driving skills during ride-alongs with new employees.  After policy training, don’t assume that bad habits will disappear. Correct unsafe driving behavior before employees are cleared to work a shift.

Measure Your Safety Performance

You can’t improve what you don’t measure. Use lagging (historical) and leading (proactive) indicators for process improvement. Lagging indicators may include crash losses, lost employee days or worker compensation claims. Leading indicators can include safety audits, number of training hours spent on safety, safety perception survey results or safety metrics from driver performance monitoring devices. After periodic evaluations, if lagging indicators are low, don’t assume all is well. Focus on enhancing and improving leading indicators.


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About the Author:

Enhancing your EMS A

David R. McGowan

David McGowan, ASHM, has more than 35 years of experience in EMS serving as a clinician and administrator for fire and hospital-based services. He is an accomplished administrator in Operations, Communications, Marketing, Business Development and Systems Quality. McGowan is recognized nationally for his expertise in ambulance safety programs. He has had many speaking engagements at national EMS conferences and has authored numerous publications and papers. McGowan provides expert consultation for ambulance operators, manufacturers, educational institutions, government agencies and legal firms. 

Mr. McGowan is highly regarded as an expert in safe ambulance operations with clients ranging from small to very large operations.  His client list is a “who’s who” of Emergency Medical Services, not only here in the US but in Europe as well. 

Before joining ACETECH, Mr. McGowan was employed by ZOLL Road Safety where he provided his clients with best practices in ambulance safety.  His vast experience in EMS and vehicle telematics provides a unique approach to develop and enhance safety solutions.

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