Niagara EMS leading group on use of sirens and lights

niagara ems

Have you noticed Niagara's ambulances aren't using their sirens and lights as often?

Niagara EMS has been examining the practice and is now helping development international policy on the use of lights and sirens.

Niagara EMS Chief Kevin Smith and Deputy Chief Rick Ferron have been working with a group of leaders from various first-responder agencies across North America on the use.

The National EMS Quality Alliance has started a quality improvement partnership project including more than 100 EMS services, with Niagara EMS as a lead agency on the initiative.

In the United States in 2009, there were 1,579 ambulance crash injuries, and most EMS crashes occur when driving with their lights and sirens activated.

When compared with other similar-sized vehicles, ambulance crashes are more often at intersections, more often at traffic signals, and more often with multiple injuries.

The use of lights and sirens saves an average of about one minute during an emergency medical response or transport to a hospital. 

In 2019, Niagara EMS significantly revised policies for lights and siren use, limiting their use to responses where they are required to critical responses only. 

These time-sensitive emergencies, which account for less than 10 per cent of all EMS responses in Niagara, are best identified by using a high-quality medical call prioritization system. 

In the coming months Niagara EMS will be exploring further opportunities to minimize lights and siren use not only to a scene, but on the way to the hospital as well.

"Niagara EMS has transformed from a strictly time-based response system to one that provides the right care, at the right time, in the right place and by the right provider. Making sure ambulance warning systems are used for true emergency situations where minutes will make a difference in the clinical outcome of a patient, provides a balance of safety for the community and responders. Niagara EMS is proud to operate an advanced paramedic service that can make these improvements locally and contribute to this change in practice and EMS culture internationally." ~ Kevin Smith, Niagara EMS Chief