Private ambulance services in South Africa are not only expected to offer quality clinical care to patients, they are expected to offer such care in an environment that is clean, comfortable, well-maintained, and presentable.
An aspect of this equation that is often overlooked is the ability to provide both heating and cooling in the passenger compartment of the ambulance. It is fairly inexpensive to purchase a vehicle that includes air conditioning as well as heating in the driver compartment of the vehicle, but what about the patient compartment? Our patients are our customers, and when they pay a premium price for the services of a private ambulance, they rightfully expect to be transported in a certain degree of comfort.
As private ambulance operators, do we understand the expectations of our customers, or do we possibly overlook them in the interests of cost saving? Is an attitude of cost saving in the short-term going to have a negative impact on the long-term development of your company brand and its perceived position within the market? Will the addition of an air cooling and heating unit during the construction of your ambulance assist to bolster your reputation as a provider of quality pre-hospital healthcare?
In addition to the general comfort of your patient as well as their escort, what other purposes does a heating and cooling unit offer within the patient compartment of the ambulance? In terms of the correct storage of medications within the vehicle, a properly regulated environment is key to the effective storage of a number of medications that are generally required to be stored at or below room temperature. Excessive temperatures within the vehicle can have detrimental effects on the effectiveness of medications, and it is of noteworthy importance that vehicles should either be operating a temperature control system in order to maintain temperatures within the vehicle below 25° Celsius, or that the vehicle be parked in an environment where it is not subjected to excessive temperatures.
Lastly, in certain situations, management of a patient’s temperature within a controlled environment can be of the utmost importance. A patient who is hypothermic may require rewarming, and the ability to heat the patient compartment of the vehicle can be key to this process. Likewise, if a patient is hyperthermic, an air conditioned environment can offer very positive benefits relating to the lowering of the patient’s core body temperature.
The points raised above are vital considerations when purchasing or constructing your next ambulance, and every private ambulance service should be doing as much as possible to ensure that the treatment environment for the patient is both comfortable and inviting.