New study highlights risks and inefficiencies in EMS lights and siren use

February 15, 2024

Reducing lights and siren in emergency services for safety and efficiency

The case for changing emergency response protocols

A January 2024 report by the National EMS Quality Alliance (NEMSQA) has brought to light that the use of lights and siren in emergency vehicles does not lead to clinically significant time savings and is linked to an increase in ambulance crashes.

This insight is part of the findings from the Lights and Siren Collaborative project aimed at decreasing injuries, fatalities, and property damage from EMS vehicle collisions.

Guidance for EMS agencies

The report, titled “Improving Safety in EMS: Reducing the Use of Lights and Siren,” suggests modifications in response and transport processes, interpretation of relevant regulations, adjustments in EMS agency contracts, and building a case for these changes among EMS clinicians and communities.

Included in the report are case studies from four EMS agencies demonstrating the impact of these recommendations on reducing lights and siren use based on NEMSQA’s quality measures.

Implications and recommendations for EMS siren use

The findings advocate for a judicious use of lights and siren, recommending activation only when necessary.

This approach aims to balance the urgency of medical care with the safety of patients, healthcare workers, and the public.

The report identifies a significant need for EMS systems to adopt these guidelines to mitigate risks associated with the traditional emergency response protocol.

FSJA comment

The NEMSQA report underscores a pivotal moment for emergency medical services, highlighting the delicate balance between rapid response and safety.

By presenting data-driven evidence and actionable strategies, it encourages EMS agencies to reconsider the habitual use of lights and siren.

This shift promises to enhance safety for both EMS personnel and the general public and aligns with broader efforts to improve the quality and efficiency of emergency medical care.

The successful implementation of these recommendations could serve as a model for emergency services worldwide, fostering a culture of safety and evidence-based practice.

Read Next

Subscribe Now