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Video:Take a Tour: Inside an Ambulance

with Rod Brouhard

Ever wonder what the inside of an ambulance looks like? Take a tour and see the equipment and medicine required to run a mini emergency room on wheels.See Transcript

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Transcript:Take a Tour: Inside an Ambulance

Hi, I am Rod Brouhard, your Guide to First Aid at About.com. As a paramedic, I get to work everyday in an office unlike any other. If you'll join me, I'd like to show you around.

What Does an Ambulance Do?

The ambulance is an integral part of modern healthcare, transporting patients between medical facilities and responding to medical emergencies. Ambulances keep physicians and patients connected.

There are several versions of ambulance used throughout the nation. This is the most common. It's called a type II ambulance and looks like a van. Not all ambulance trips are emergencies. Ambulances are used to transport patients between hospitals as well as responding to 911 calls.

Ambulances on the Road

Even when ambulances responded to emergencies with lights and sirens, when transporting patients back to the hospital we try to keep the lights and sirens off unless absolutely necessary. If you see an ambulance is approaching with lights flashing and siren wailing, please move to the side of the road and stop.

Inside an Ambulance

The back of the ambulance is the patient compartment. There is a gurney – or cot – that is removable. The long bench seat can accommodate another patient if necessary, but we try not to double-up. Imagine an emergency room without x-ray machines or a laboratory. That's about the level of care a paramedic ambulance can provide for most patients. The ambulance crew’s main focus depends on the patient’s medical condition.

Ambulance Equipment

Ambulances must be ready for all sorts of emergencies. Diagnostic equipment helps the ambulance crew determine what is wrong with the patient, and transportation equipment helps get patients from one place to another. If a person's heart stops, the ambulance crew has a defibrillator to help get the heart beating again.

Every nook and cranny is utilized for storage. All of this equipment is stored inside the ambulance.

Splinting equipment is used to immobilize arms, legs and the spine, and bandaging supplies are used to control bleeding and dress wounds.

Airway equipment is kept on hand to keep patients breathing, or to breathe for them. Ambulances carry several medications, too. Almost all of the medications on an ambulance are meant for patients in life-threatening conditions.

Ambulance Communications

Ambulances must be able to communicate with other emergency vehicles and hospitals. We use radio communication for most situations. Some ambulances have computers networked together that can communicate with messages that are similar to email. Those computers usually also have maps and can help the ambulance crew find addresses.

Working in an Ambulance

Some ambulance crews have stations where they park the ambulance and wait on calls for help. Other crews must live inside their ambulances for their entire shift. The front of the ambulance is where we stay, anywhere from eight to twenty-four hours at a time. My day on an ambulance is twelve hours long, spent here in the front unless I have a patient.

Thank you for taking a tour of my office. Please remember to yield to ambulances when you see the lights flashing and hear the siren. It helps get patients the emergency treatment they need faster and may even save a life. For more information, visit us on the Web at firstaid.about.com.

Special thanks to American Medical Response for allowing the use of an ambulance.
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