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Valatie Rescue will limit use of lights, sirens

Sep 26, 2022 1:00 am

Roger Hannigan Gilson is reporting for the Times Union that ambulances with the Valatie Rescue Squad will reduce the use of sirens and emergency lights after a coalition of 13 national medical and first-responder groups endorsed limiting the practice. The groups wrote a position paper, released in February, that cited a variety of studies suggesting that using lights and sirens when responding to calls had little effect on the medical outcome of the patient while drastically increasing the possibility of a vehicle crash. "It is important that we are doing those things which we know definitively are helping our patients," said Valatie Rescue Squad Executive Director Scott Bowman. According to the paper, using lights and sirens saves emergency crews between 42 seconds and 3.8 minutes of time when responding to calls or transporting a patient, but increases the possibility of the ambulance crashing by 50 percent, or by 300 percent when transporting patients. Ambulance crashes can not only injure or kill EMS workers, but further injure patients, as well as endanger people in other vehicles. Valatie Rescue Squad Operations Manager Steve Meehan said the position paper confirmed an idea that had been talked about in the rescue squad for years. "... {W}e figured it was only a matter of time before this data would be publicized," he said. The Valatie Rescue Squad independently adopted the new policy, but no other rescue squads in Columbia or Greene counties have changed their policies, according to Meehan. The ultimate decision of whether to use lights and sirens will be up to the responding paramedic-in-charge. Meehan said it was not his job to "tie the hands of the clinicians. They are the ones that are making the clinical decisions in the back of the ambulance," he said. About 50 EMS agencies across the country have implemented the new recommendations and are collecting information with the National EMS Quality Alliance. Read the full story in the Times Union.

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