‘Sterile Cockpit,’ Better Care for Greater Pittston Regional Ambulance

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EXETER, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU)– It’s a sticker that’s only about two square inches in size, but it backs a policy that is personal to one local emergency medical services organization and it could be the most important piece of safety equipment on their rigs.

It’s a ‘sterile cockpit’ sticker and it represents a growing trend in the EMS community.

“It’s basically to keep the cockpit safe–to not distract the driver when they’re heading to an emergency or taking a patient to the hospital,” said Greater Pittston paramedic Michael May. “It’s also a safety measure for the patient and their family.”

The sticker backs a policy that civilians are not permitted to drive in the cab of the ambulance. This cuts down on distractions that have statistically raised the number of ambulance-involved crashes, nationwide.

“One of the major risks was having distractions in the cab,” said Greater Pittston Regional’s Chief of Operations Ed Szafran. “One of those biggest distractions was having a non-member of the crew in the transport unit.”

Emergency personnel tell Eyewitness News it’s understandable for family to become angry when a loved one is hurt, but this rule protects everyone– including the victim.

“Mostly, I’d say, it’s been taken well by people that we take, but there are some that argue about it,” added May.

Crews at Greater Pittston Regional cite an accident two years ago where their crew wasn’t distracted, but still involved and if a civilian had been in the cockpit, it could have been fatal. At the end of the day, it’s about the safety and care for everyone involved.

“We’re kind of taught to go into it–you’re calling us for help. We’re going to try and do our job as best as we can for you. To do that, we need things to line up for us,” Szafran added. “By not adding that distraction, it allows us to provide the best care that we can and deliver the patient to the definitive care as safely and as quickly as possible.”

There are extenuating circumstances where a crew can allow someone into the passenger side but these situations are extremely rare and based solely on that passenger being vital to the care of the patient.

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