PMD 1996 or “…of course I can find data…I’m a consultant…”

Gather data??? No problem…that’s what I do…and I’m pretty good at it. …or at least I thought I was. But I didn’t really know the EMS market – especially for a pediatric product…and I was soon to find out no one else did either.

I started with what I thought was a pretty good list of some very basic questions:

I. General Market Insights:The PedREST story2

  1. Overview of stretcher market
    • Key players / competitors
    • Listing of stretcher models
      • Which stretchers are unique (independently manufactured)
      • Which are market leaders
    • Market share
    • Distribution channels
      • % VARS / Direct / Wholesale
      • Means of communication (Internet, catalogue, sales personnel, etc.)
  2. Overview of US emergency medical transport (e.g. ambulance) market
    • Ambulance company data:
      • company size (public, private & govt.) by region (if available)
        • # small (<20 ambulances)
        • # medium (21-50 ambulances)
        • # large 50+
        • how has this changed over past 5 years
      • average number of sites per company (small/medium/large)
      • average number of ambulances per site (small/medium/large)
    • Purchases (last 5 years) ambulances and stretchers

II. Pediatric “Emergencies” (1994+)

  1. Infant/pediatric ambulance (ground and air) transports
    • age distribution
    • geographic distribution (if significant)
  2. Volume of infant/pediatric transports as % of total transports conducted by various services
  3. Breakdown of call “codes” (as initially called/diagnosed)
    • % code 3: stable transport
    • % code 2: unstable or potentially unstable – not usually life threatening
    • % code 1: medical emergency – life threatening
    • Frequency of code escalation (eg. How often code 3 or 2 becomes code 1)
  4. % of infant/pediatric transports requiring “medication” administration en-route

Truth be told there were more questions on my list, but you get the idea. It seemed like this would be a good place to start. So armed with my questionnaire I started my research. Unfortunately at this point the internet was still in its infancy. While today you could type in “ambulance crash child transport” and get tens of thousands of references, back then the results barely registered.

My luck didn’t get any better by phone…I tried the American Ambulance Association and was referred to a nurse at the Walter Reed Hospital who referred me to an editor at JEMS magazine (an EMS trade publication) who referred me …and referred me…and so on. The list was endless…and no matter who I contacted no-one had the information I was looking for. What amazed me was the difficulty I was having even finding “the basics” – i.e. the number of ambulances in the US…and the number of crashes they had – forget trying to locate anything pediatric specific.

It wasn’t that the people I encountered weren’t helpful. The basic fact was the information was not available because it wasn’t being gathered. No-one was tracking the number of ambulance crashes taking place in the US primarily because no-one was reporting them. And why would they??? The only crashes required to be reported were the ones that resulted in a fatality. It would not in fact be until late 1999, with the creation of an internet site called EMS Network News that we would finally see how “big of a deal” the issue of ambulance crashes truly was. In the meantime, I was beyond frustrated – feeling like I had failed before I’d even begun. Still I had made a promise that I wasn’t quite willing to let go of… so I made a decision – a leap of faith so to speak, that this was (or would be) something that really mattered once people finally knew about it. I hoped for the best …and jumped. …thanks for listening…

About the Author

Stefanie Zucker is President and co-founder of Pediatric Medical and Managing Director and co-founder of Axios Partners, a strategy consulting firm. After a number of years spent researching the safety issues associated with transporting children on ambulances she became a child health safety advocate and formed Pediatric Safety with a goal of creating a world-wide movement of parents and caregivers inspired to protect the health and safety of kids. Stefanie is a member of the PedSafe Team


5 Responses to “PMD 1996 or “…of course I can find data…I’m a consultant…””

  1. A topic that never would have occurred to me. You’ve got me now….what did you eventually find out?????
    .-= Rebecca Wear Robinson´s last blog ..A bad economy doesn’t have to mean you can’t keep your kids safe =-.

    • Stefanie Zucker Stefanie says:

      That data was really slow in coming…probably because a lot of it was self-reported and I think folks hesitated (understandably) to report something like that. I’d see maybe 1 accident every couple of weeks on the site. But over the years the information started coming more regularly. Now as a subscriber to EMS Network news I see at least 1 and some times as many as 3 accidents per day. On average 4 kids die each year because of this. It’s unbelievable. And scary that so few people know about it.

      Thanks for asking!
      .-= Stefanie´s last blog ..PMD 1996 or “…of course I can find data…I’m a consultant…” =-.

  2. Suzanne Hantke says:

    It is really amazing to me that as I am reading this, I should be thinking, “Yeah, I remember that” and “oh that’s right” yet instead, I find myself saying, “I didn’t know she did all of that!”

    When I first brought the idea to you… (That really is all that it was… an idea, and a few colored drawings.) I really didn’t have any hope…let alone expectations, that anything would really come of it. And ironically, when you said you’d check into it, I thought you were just trying to be nice… a way to put off the inevitable… which in my mind was you having to tell me that it was silly, or not practical. I thought “I’ll check into it” was your way of figuring out how to let me down gently, because you saw I was excited about it.

    And yet even when I finally understood that you actually were looking into it, or more unbelievably to me; thought it was worth looking into, until reading this I did not realize that you put so much into it from so early on.

    I guess it is funny that when you have an older sister that you idolize, you just think they can “make anything happen” almost at the snap of a finger. Especially when (If I may I recap what you wrote in the “about us” story)I just thought everything came easily to you… Or more like for you.

    And please do not misunderstand me…. I know how much work over the years you have put into it, especially when I was not capable of helping in any way… but I guess I did not realize how you threw yourself into this so painstakingly- right from the very start.

    As far as lack of information regarding ambulances back then, that part I do remember! But now, I will say that every time I open the link that JEMS online sends me, it seems like lately there are very few articles that do not contain stories of ambulance crashes: ie:

    **October 4th Headline: Two Dead in SC Ambulance Crash
    **October 10th Headline: EMT Killed in Illinois Ambulance Accident
    **October 15th Headline: Paramedic Fell Asleep In Georgia Ambulance Crash
    **October 20th, headline: Two Canadian Medics Dead after Ambulance Crashes into Lake. (From JEMS: FireRescue)
    **Thursday, October 21st: Headline: Fatal Mass. Ambulance Crash

    Yet all of these articles cause me mixed emotions: On the one hand, I am thrilled they are finally making the public aware of these problems. But on the other hand, it makes me furious and sad that nothing has changed (YET!!)

    So, as I eagerly await your next post, and marvel at each step of this process you have gone through (more often than not, completely alone) I have to wonder; I know I have told you over the many years that I am so proud of you, but I am not really sure if I have said the most important words that truly come from the bottom of my heart… and if I have said it, it is definitely worth repeating…….



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