Mobility Device Transportation Safety

June 15, 2021


The transportation of those individuals that use Mobility Devices is one of the most important duties of a Non-Emergency Medical Transportation driver. The responsibilities for the NEMT driver are extensive and require proper training to eliminate the risks involved. In past articles we have discussed the meaning of safety which is the freedom from risk, and risk is the possibility of having harm, bodily injury, or damage to property.  So, when we discuss eliminating the risk involved, that means we have to train our NEMT drivers on the correct procedures involved in Mobility Device Transportation which in turn will provide a safe trip from point A to point B and back to point A and eliminate any risk taking.

What are the Risks?

When we talk about the risks involved with Mobility Device Transportation, there are many. Let’s start with listing a few to think about.

  1. Communication with the Passenger. Failing to provide proper communication to our passengers contributes to the risk.  How do we teach our NEMT drivers to communicate their actions with the passenger? This is especially true during the loading and unloading process. Proper greetings, talking with the customer, asking permission to assist them, giving directions, mobility device movement, mobility device securement procedures, address verifications, are all part of the proper communication process. Not properly training our NEMT drivers on proper procedures leads to risk taking.
  2. Improper Driving.  Failure of the NEMT driver to provide safe driving and failure of the NEMT driver to drive defensively can lead to catastrophic results. NEMT passengers put their life in the hands of our drivers. It is expected and is part of the Duty of Care, that your drivers implement proper driving techniques. You must have a proper training program to give the drivers the learning tools about driving. Just because your fleet may consist of small vans or sedans doesn’t mean that teaching drivers how to make a proper right turn, or how to go through a curve without putting undue G Force on the passenger using a mobility device is any less important that the fleet that uses a large vehicle or cutaway to provide transportation.
  3. Improper Securement Techniques.  Failure to provide proper securement of mobility devices is one of most serious offenses that a NEMT driver can commit. I some companies that I have been affiliated with, failure to secure a mobility device will lead to termination of the driver. It is important that a proper training program, that emphasizes securement techniques is implemented during initial driver training and also reviewed during in service or safety meetings. Securement techniques for the different types of vehicles and securement systems is needed to be included in your training programs.  The risk in not having proper securement techniques can result is passenger injury and/or passenger fatality. I have been involved in many cases where the driver failed to secure the mobility device, left off securement belts or straps, and the individual being transported has tipped over sideways, or tipped backwards hitting their head.
  4. Poor Customer Service. In this area, the risk is high that you will lose this business.  Repeatedly late or missed trips can result in the loss of business, and unhappy customers. Our passenger relies on us to live their lives. They go to the doctors, dialysis, treatment centers, shopping, etc. and we are the ones around town that get them there.  The NEMT driver is your customers first look at your operation. How does the NEMT driver present themselves, do they greet your passengers, do they show proper ID, are they groomed appropriately, wearing a proper uniform? These are all risk factors involved in keeping your customers and providing service excellence.
  5. On Time Performance. Not being on time for service requested is one of the most frustrating issues. The risk involved in not being on time is that the passengers you serve will complain, and as a NEMT provider, you want to make sure that the customers are satisfied. Complaints in this area run the risk of attributing to losing business, and drivers run the risk of safety issues if they are late and trying to make up time. How does your operation solve the issue of routing? Do you have a system in place that helps with routing and providing solutions to avoid late arrivals?

How do we Fix Risks and Avoid them?

The first thing with fixing risks is avoiding them all together. As NEMT providers we have to provide our drivers with the abilities and training that will allow them to perform at a high level, and to avoid mistakes that leads to risk. Proper training in areas that I have listed in this article should be part of your foundational training program. It is up to each NEMT company to have a proper training program, and instructors on staff that can give both classroom and hands on practice in these critical areas. Having the correct “NORMS” of operations can help with policies, procedures, and programs for each of the areas listed.

In Summary

It is important that NEMT Companies review their policies, procedures, and programs to determine if the correct “NORM” of operation is implemented and practiced by the company drivers. Taking care of our Mobility Device Passengers is the most important part of our daily operation and their care and safety is not something that we want our drivers to take risks with. NEMT drivers must know the proper procedures, programs, and policies to avoid risks in the transporting of passengers using mobility devices.

Thanks, and see you next time!

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