|The multipurpose Guardian is an adult attendant/captain seat that swivels and is seamless for easy cleaning. The back cushion folds down to create a booster seat with a five-point harness for toddlers and small children. The bottom of the booster seat can be removed to reveal an infant seat that rotates up and locks into place.|
Any emergency medical technician or paramedic will tell you there is not a lot of free space on an ambulance to stow a child safety seat. So where does that leave a baby or a small child who has to travel in an ambulance? A Gilbert, Ariz., company is tackling that question with a new ambulance seat.
Serenity Safety Products President and CEO Dan Sjoquist showed off his invention, the Guardian Safety Seat, at the Fire Department Instructors Conference in Indianapolis. It is an attendant seat that easily converts to handle infants as small as 5 pounds or toddlers.
Not Enough Room
“There’s just not enough room in a lot of ambulances for a car seat or booster seat,” Sjoquist pointed out. “And the real big concern is with babies, because there are transports done every day where mom’s on the gurney, mom was in a fender bender, and because most ambulance services don’t carry a car seat, they are forced to hold the baby in their arms.”
On the face of it, the Guardian looks like any other attendant seat. But if you fold down the back cushion, it becomes a toddler and child seat with a five-point harness. Then remove another cushion, and a hidden infant seat can be raised and locked into place. Sjoquist said it looks simple, but it took him and his paramedic partner a few years to come up with something that worked well and kept children safe.
“Because the attendant seat is rear-facing in an ambulance, there is no standard for crash testing a seat that goes backwards,” Sjoquist said. “Not just the infant seat, but also the adult seat. So for the past couple of years we’ve been doing a lot of testing on our seat.”
He said the seat meets or exceeds all federal child safety seat standards as well as Federal Specifications for Ambulances KKK-A-822 (Triple-K) standards. “The infant seat passed with lower damage scores than what you would get on an over-the-counter infant seat,” Sjoquist said. “So from that perspective, we are pretty happy and proud of what we’ve done.”
Up To 85 Pounds
The toddler/child seat position handles up to 85 pounds, to account for several state laws that require booster seats for children up to age 8, or 80 pounds. “When we developed this, we actually got [child passenger safety] people involved and said we will try to engineer something that goes to 85 pounds, because at 85 that goes into a lower range adult,” Sjoquist said. “We are the only ones to go up to 85 pounds, and on the infant side we are one-of-a-kind.”
The infant seat has a removable cushion in case of messes, bodily fluids or spills. “The pad that we have is removable and comes off very easily,” Sjoquist explained. “The pad itself has an absorbent core at the center so any kinds of fluids are trapped inside. And it has a waterproof back, so it works like a diaper would. Then you can throw it away.” The neck roll on the infant seat can be moved down for a smaller infant and up for a larger one.
The Guardian Safety Seat began selling in January, and already Sjoquist said some ambulance companies are considering purchases. He said the seat makes sense for ambulance manufacturers, especially in light of an upcoming proposed National Fire Protection Association standard for ambulances. “We are heavily involved on that side,” he said. “We’ve pushed a lot of the issues on the seating requirements to try to get rear-facing crash tests for adults, much less infants. We know that even though it’s not required, this is the way it should be done.”
The Guardian Safety Seat retails for $4,000 to $4,500.
Go to www.fireindex.com and click company or products named in story above.