The equipment used in out-of-hospital care includes the vehicles and everything on them. The two most common EMS vehicles are first-response units (fire engines, police cruisers, and rescue vehicles), which do not transport patients, and ground ambulances, which do transport patients. Ground ambulances come in three common varieties: type I, a standard pick-up chassis with a modular box to carry personnel, patient, and equipment; type II, an enlarged van-type vehicle; and type III, a van chassis with a modular box on the back.
Ground vehicles have warning devices (lights and siren) as part of their equipment. Unwarranted use of red lights and sirens is dangerous for the EMS crew, any patient on board, and the general public on the streets. Ambulance transport with lights and sirens does not save significant amounts of time in most urban and suburban transports.3 Every EMS system must have protocols or guidelines written by the medical director to use these devices only at times when medically indicated when the crew is responding to the scene, transporting the patient back to the hospital, and during interfacility transports. 4
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