EMS looking to step up safety measures after hijacking, theft

Christmas day 2016 was a day Austin-Travis County EMS will never forget.

“You have a completely unknown person, you have no idea what their mental state is or their physical capabilities. You don't know anything about them, they jump in they're driving, you're in the back,” said Captain Rick Rutledge, ATCEMS.

On top of that, you have no way to communicate with the driver because of the patient compartment divider. That's what happened to two medics that day. The suspect pulled over and ran off. No medics were hurt.
Just earlier that month, someone stole an empty ambulance from UMC Brackenridge.

“When you have two that close together it's a stimulus,” said Rutledge.

EMS authorities are looking at safety improvements.

“I don't think we can ever make them theft proof, but we've found several options,” said Rutledge.

Right now, there is just an option to unlock and lock the entire ambulance at one time. Improvements may include having the option to lock just the front, or the back at one time, something that could've come in handy last Christmas.

“When they came out with their patient to get in the truck they hit the button which unlocked everything. They got in, were performing patient care doing their duty and someone was able to get in the front,” said Rutledge.

They are still throwing out plenty of suggestions

“Require certain techniques, equipment, buttons or whatever inside the truck that would just keep someone who is not familiar with those, from getting in and driving away,” said Rutledge.

No lives were taken in these incidents, and that's how EMS hopes to keep it.

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