The Mother of Invention - Science vs Tradition

By now, all delegates from the EMS Safety Foundation (click here) have made their way back to their home states and countries after attending RETTmobile 2009, one of Europe’s largest public safety expositions and trade fairs. I had never been overseas before and I found the whole experience very refreshing, informative and lots of fun. It really was like I was on “The Amazing Race,” finding my way around Germany without speaking any German. I think I’ve dusted off the cob webs from jet lag (26 hours of traveling from my hotel in Germany to Colorado) and can now clearly appreciate all the things I learned on this wonderful adventure.

This journey was about discovery, information sharing and knowledge transfer. There were many things I found at RETTmobile that could benefit first responders back here in the states. Various innovations I observed made it seem like the Europeans were more mechanically and technically advanced than their peers here in the US. Their vehicles were fast, safe and fuel efficient. Their rescue clothing is light, durable and high visibility. Their cots were crash tests, rated to 10Gs and never had to be manually lifted in or out of the ambulance. The fire apparatus was compact, maneuverable and well engineered while other equipment was compartmentalized, quickly deployed, and never had to be lifted. Everything was designed with safety in mind and much of it required by law.

So why haven’t we implemented many of these innovations here in the US? One word quickly came to my mind, tradition. Things we do here are often based solely on tradition; red fire trucks, box ambulances, black firefighting gear, lifting patients with sheets, hard backboards for spinal injuries, leather fire helmets, side-facing bench seats in an ambulance, just to name a few. There are better and safer ways of doing business. I’ve seen them. Tradition often stands in the way of improved safety and efficiency.

Most innovations in Europe are based on science, data and facts. They work smarter than harder and seem to endorse safety in everything they build. The interesting thing is many of these innovations are standard equipment and don’t really cost much more. Seems simple; smarter, safer, more efficient for the same price. Seems like a no brainer!!

Thanks to Dr. Nadine Levick, founder of the EMS Safety Foundation, for including me on this remarkable journey and to JEMS Magazine and for allowing me to share this trip with the readers. I hope to return to RETTmobile 2010.

Wayne Zygowicz, JEMS Editorial Board member

Top Reason to Attend RETTmobile 2010

European Ambulance Innovations

The Frankfurt Airport

Quick Response Vehicle

Cardiac Monitor

Fire Chief's Car

Tank Rides

Crazy German Public Fire Educators

Fire Hose Deployment Device

Night Life

Fire Helmets at the Fire Meseum in Fulda, Germany

The Ceilings

Spaghetti Ice Cream

Firefighting Tank


Ambulance Crew Helmet - Pacific Helmet from New Zealand

The Sights

The Beer

Fire Rescue Innovations

The Country Side

The Fashion

The Cafes

Making New Friends - EMS Safety Foundation 2009 Delegates

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Comment by Alan Payne on May 26, 2009 at 4:16pm
Wayne you finally realised that there is light on this side of the pond!!!! You going to adopt some of our safe European practices!!!!!! See ya soon
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