With the industrial design office Brio Innovation, the manufacturer Demers Ambulances has developed a seat that can save lives – including that of paramedics.
Posted at 11:00 am
On the road, its ergonomics and the articulated arm of its base allow the paramedic to perform all the maneuvers surrounding the patient on a stretcher while restrained by a four-point safety harness.
In traditional North American ambulances, the paramedic sat on a bench seat next to the stretcher, secured by a two-point seat belt, which he rarely buckled.
In 2012, Demers Ambulances received a call from Calgary, where they were bemoaning an ambulance accident in which the unbelted technician sustained serious injuries.
The Quebec manufacturer then developed a wheelchair system that slides on a track parallel to the stretcher, a device that is now widely used.
But certain peripheral gestures encouraged the paramedic to occasionally disengage.
Launched five years ago in partnership with Lion Electric, the electric ambulance project offered the opportunity to completely overhaul the interior of the body.
The initial goal was: This time around, how can we make sure that by rethinking the position of the gear and the stretcher, we create a seat where the paramedic can easily move from head to toe and do their job 100% secured? At this point we have created our new headquarters.
Alain Brunelle, President of Demers Ambulances
Contrary to the usual procedure, the interior of the passenger cell was designed before the body was dimensioned.
“We started the work by saying: let’s forget the concept of the chassis, which was a limiting factor for the position of the stretcher and paramedic, and start over,” describes Alain Brunelle.
After interviews, filmed simulations and taking part in real interventions with ambulance technicians, Brio designers proposed a new interior layout.
“The exercise wasn’t centered at all on the headquarters, but the headquarters quickly became the heart of the innovation,” says Luc Bourgeois, Director, Innovation at Brio.
Instead of being on the left and back of the cabin, the stretcher was positioned in the middle, with a seat on either side.
With years of experience designing seats in public transport, recreational vehicles and aviation, Brio designers have created an ergonomic seat whose saddle-shaped configuration allows the technician to push sideways with their legs to move.
Between the thighs, a protuberance serving as a stop facilitates movement control. “This benefits the stabilization, which gives the impression that the seat is really glued to the user,” explains Luc Bourgeois.
The designers opted for simple, segmented and slightly angular lines that convey the product’s innovation and technology.
They have slimmed the shapes around the perimeter of the backrest, giving it a finesse that is both aesthetic and functional in this cluttered environment.
The four-point seat belts pass through two slots under the headrest inside the seat.
For their part, Demers engineers have developed the mechanism of the aluminum base, articulated on three interdependent pivot points. The seat can thus move in all directions around its central attachment point.
“There is a lot of technology in the articulated arm,” comments Luc Bourgeois. And that’s mostly Demers. »
Buttons on the front of the seat and behind the headrest enable the joint to be locked and unlocked as required.
“Obviously, making sure it’s easy to use and secure at the same time is a big challenge,” comments Alain Brunelle. In the event of an impact on the ambulance, the seat must remain in place. »
In the event of an impact, the device locks itself. When tested in the US, it withstood impacts of almost 23 g.
“This is a first in the industry,” emphasizes Alain Brunelle. The paramedics who saw it and tried it are all amazed. »
The electric ambulance that the seat will sit in is expected to undergo reliability and certification tests in the summer and fall, and is expected to go into production in early winter.
The seat is subcontracted. “The intention is to do that in Quebec. »