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Bill aims to mandate safety training for Utah ambulance drivers

By Nkoyo Iyamba | Posted - Feb 26th, 2013 @ 9:04pm

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah lawmaker wants to take steps to keep both ambulance drivers and the motorists with whom they share the road safer.

Currently, there is no standard safe-driving training for ambulance drivers in the state. A proposed bill would change that fact.

Last year, ambulance drivers were involved in two fatal crashes in Utah. Rick Noorda's mother was the victim of one of those crashes.

Last July, Noorda was driving his mother to a doctor's appointment in Ogden when an ambulance crashed into their car. He was hurt, she was killed.

Noorda said he is dedicated to preventing the same tragedy from falling upon anyone else.

"I really have empathy for (the ambulance driver)," he said. "He was probably doing as he was directed to do."

Rep. Gage Froerer, R-Huntsville, agreed that much more can be done.

"Police, sheriffs, highway patrol all require a certain amount of certification training," he said. "But there seems to be a hole in statute as it relates to emergency medical services vehicles."

Froerer said his bill would require people who drive ambulances and other emergency vehicles to take a safe-driving training course. He said last year's fatal crashes prove this step is critical.

"Two is too many," said Froerer. "One is too many. If we look at the injuries, it could've been worse."

Most emergency vehicle agencies in Utah already have a safe-driving course in place.

Gold Cross — which was not involved in either fatal accident last year — uses the 1995 National Standard Curriculum from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Each employee must undergo a six-month probation and pass the training before they can drive a Gold Cross Ambulance.

Froerer's bill does not set standards for the safety course. He would leave it up to the individual agencies to write their own curriculum. Ultimately, the Utah Department of Health would oversee and approve each curriculum using an existing budget dedicated to training.

"They're the experts," Froerer said. "They're the ones that should certify and know exactly what should be placed in that course."

HB230 heads to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee Wednesday. If it passes the committee, it will go to the Senate floor for debate.

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