Keeping an Eye on Lights and Sirens During Transportation

Posted on October 24, 2023
Tags: EMS

While lights and sirens have always been synonymous with ambulances, there’s been more and more research highlighting their potential risks outweighing their time-saving benefits. Due to this, the National EMS Quality Alliance (NEMSQA) is spearheading the development of industry wide metrics to evaluate their usage, while also working towards reducing their frequency. The goal is to safely reduce usage to less than 30% of responses and less than 5% for transports for EMS calls.  

Improving through data  

In order to promote that movement, ESO has been analyzing data from the past year. We’ve found that out of 6,899,990 patient transports, 5,710,343 did not use lights and sirens, which is about 83%. There were several factors that played a part in these numbers including rural vs. urban locations, types of encounters, and more. This year’s numbers did not change much from last year’s, which means there is improvement to be had when creating a culture of more judicious L&S use and determining policies surrounding them.

Next steps to take  

Try limiting your L&S usage to less than 5% of transports to stay in accordance with NHTSA guidance. You can do this by using them only in situations where the estimated time saved is critical to the patient’s outcome. Proactively training your EMS vehicle operators and educating them on policies and guidelines can also go a long way in empowering their decision-making

For more insights that help empower your EMS department, download the ESO EMS Index today.