Alberta Health Service’s Emergency Medical Services (AHS-EMS) has partnered with the W21C Human Factors and Simulation Team at the University of Calgary to improve the design of new ambulances through the development of evidence-based design guidelines.

More than 100 EMS personnel from across Alberta have volunteered to be a part of the study. As the first study of its kind to be conducted in Canada, this province-wide initiative explores how EMS staff can best deliver care within the patient compartment of ambulances. Study findings will influence and improve the safety, layout and functionality of future AHS ambulances.

“Our goal is to ensure we are providing our staff with a safe, comfortable workspace that will allow them to do their jobs as efficiently as possible to improve patient safety and outcomes,” says Mike Plato, Acting Executive Director of EMS business standards and operations support. “This is a unique opportunity to observe the interactions between EMS practitioners within the patient compartment of an ambulance, while providing simulated patient care.”

To create a realistic emergency scenario similar to those encountered on the job, EMS staff taking part in this emergency exercise will treat a simulation mannequin as their ‘patient’ as they provide care inside a moving ambulance. Researchers will use video and vision-tracking devices to observe and learn how treatment can be affected by the confines of an ambulance. Through surveys and interviews, AHS-EMS staff will also give written and verbal feedback to researchers about their experiences working in ambulances.

“Our data collection will allow us to develop evidence-based design guidelines for future ambulances,” says Jeff Caird, PhD, Human Factors and Simulation Lead, W21C. “The study focuses on efficiency of care and the safety of health care providers and patients.”

Funding for this study has been provided by the AUTO21 Network of Centres of Excellence, Alberta Health Services and W21C.