Backing up the ambulance.

Righteous

Forum Probie
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The short: I cannot backup an ambulance into a spot. Any tips? I always miss the spot, come in wrong. The only thing I know to do Is to look at my back tire and the ground with the small mirror. Line it up and park. Im lucky if I find the damn line though...





The Long.

Why? Why must I be half asian and cursed with a horrible sense of driving?
Thats a joke, you can Laugh.

Seriously though I was searching on the web and came up with this previous thread
http://www.emtlife.com/showthread.php?t=7998

I can drive the ambulance forward just fine. My problem comes when I have to back up into the spot where you drop the patient off.

I've driven hatchbacks all my life. I lived in the suburbs. Now I work for the biggest trauma center in my state (first emt job) and I can do everything demanded of me as an EMT-I except one thing.

I for the life of me cannot back my ambulance into a spot. Whats the trick? What mojo does that girl have? What does that guy have that I dont?

My backing skills were so terrible I had to get a one on one session with a field trainer. A 5 hour session. As far as Im concerned I honestly believe that my employer has given me a fair chance to improve. I have to do the rest on my own.

I improved some, but I still cannot back into a spot without a spotter, and no our place of employment does require spotters. My medic is annoyed when I have to ask her to spot. Shes also my trainer< Im third riding atm>

I really do want to get better. Im about to rent a freaking U-haul and spend my sunday backing it in between two cars over and over again.

Any tips? Help?!

Thanks guys
 

MMiz

I put the M in EMTLife
Community Leader
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Others may offer you advice, but I'd suggest that you practice. Get a few cones and see if you can practice with a rig. Do they have any extras that you can use?

For $40 a day you can rent a panel van from Ryder and practice all day. It's only $20 a day and .50 a mile at Budget truck rentals.

Good luck from someone that was horrible at parking!
 

wyoskibum

Forum Captain
363
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1) Make sure your mirrors are adjusted. You need to be able to see your rear tires and the top of your box on both sides.

2) Unless your partner is doing patient care, you should always utilize a spotter anyway.

3) One of the most common mistakes is that you don't pull far enough forward to have a good view of the spot you are backing into. If you have the extra room, use it and pull as far forward as possible.

4) One you have your line, back straight in. I see people who try to correct, over correct, etc... Start backing up and make minor corrections. The steering wheel shouldn't be moving too much.

5) Practice as much as possible

Good luck!
 

RMSP05

Forum Probie
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Others may offer you advice, but I'd suggest that you practice. Get a few cones and see if you can practice with a rig. Do they have any extras that you can use?

For $40 a day you can rent a panel van from Ryder and practice all day. It's only $20 a day and .50 a mile at Budget truck rentals.

Good luck from someone that was horrible at parking!
Thats a good suggestion, and over time you will improve. But also when ever you drive your car, try backing up just using just your mirrors, it will be easyer since your car will be smaller. It will be the same concept as backing up the rig, just smaller and easyer to start with. After you get good backing up with the mirrors of your car, use a spare rig or a rental van and practive. The best way to get better is to keep practicing.

Good Luck!!
 

JCampbell

Forum Crew Member
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0
I think your trainer needs some training. It's gonna really "annoy" her if you back over someone or cause thousands in damage to the rig. There are times when you have to back up alone, and for that, like was said, practice is the only remedy. But for every other time, especially during training, your trainer needs to do her jay oh bee. That's what she's paid for.
 

Dominion

Forum Asst. Chief
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You'll get it eventually, I'm terrible at backing up and driving in general. It'll take practice, generally if it's crooked I don't care too much as long as it's not TOO crooked. Generally will go to a ER Bay or some other place I back, look for the two markers to tell me 'where' my ambulance is. These can be the poles or parking lines. Once I have those in view in both mirrors I just let er rip backwards and make sure I don't lose those two markers in either mirror.

Take it slow and don't worry about it so much. If it's a huge deal with your employer see if they can offer you a remedial training with a driving instructor on your off day or something. Other than that, practice practice practice.
 

WolfmanHarris

Forum Asst. Chief
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Some general tips:
1) Use a backer whenever possible, this is for your safety and that of the public.
2) Never, ever do things blindly. If you aren't 100% sure of where your vehicle is with regards to potential collisions, stop until you do.
3) If necessary, get out and look to see your route before you start.
4) If you can't see both sides of where you want your truck to be, you won't fit. Don't force it.
5) Aim high. Don't focus on whether your still clearing, look at the back of the garage, or the wall behind you, etc. It'll help keep you straight. Just glance in your mirrors constantly to make sure, but dont get tunnel vision.
6) Your rear wheel is your pivot point. When the rear wheel clears an obstacle you can begin to turn without fear of hitting it.
7) Don't forget that when you turn the wheel Left when backing, the front will swing to the right.
8) Don't be afraid to give yourself more room.
9) Learn the dimensions of your vehicle. Find the furthest point back you can see in the mirrors (often a compartment hinge) and learn how much further the truck extends (including bumper), this become a visual landmark for rear clearance.
10) Use a backer! Even if it seems no one else in your service does, remember you're only responsible for your own performance not their's. Ask them to get out and back you up. If they refuse it's on them.
 

cm4short

Forum Lieutenant
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Ambulances have pivot point on each side. I think its the rear axle on the driver side and just behind the wheel well on the passenger side. It may be opposite tho, They taught this in EVOC at AMR and it's been a few years since i took it. But the basic rule of thumb is; when you hit that spot, start turning and you'll be money everytime.
 

mycrofft

Still crazy but elsewhere
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Taek your time, go as slowly as possible and use a spotter.

I have had a lot of "happa" friends, get over that!;)

1. Line up with plenty of room.
2. Alternating looking in each mirror, make sure your passenger side has enough room, sight down your driver side of the unit, and slowly hold that sight as you back, with only an occasional glance to the passenger mirror. In fact, at first, stop for that passenger side sighting.
3. Seriosly, roll down your windows and go SLOWLY.
4, I once infuriated a coworker by insisting we head into a slot before we backed in. "Plenty of room" he cried. I headed in, and he found he couldn't open his door. Ijit!
 

EMSLaw

Legal Beagle
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You also might try leaning forward a bit in your seat. It will give you a more accurate impression of where the rear wheels are while you're backing.
 

rescuepoppy

Forum Lieutenant
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Just like any other skill. Their is no "magic bullet" to make it easier. The only way is through practice.
 

usalsfyre

You have my stapler
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Ambulances have pivot point on each side. I think its the rear axle on the driver side and just behind the wheel well on the passenger side. It may be opposite tho, They taught this in EVOC at AMR and it's been a few years since i took it. But the basic rule of thumb is; when you hit that spot, start turning and you'll be money everytime.
Pivot point is the center of the rear axle on both sides, unless your driving something with dual rear axles, then it's the center of the space between the axles. Easiest thing to do, pull forward until your in line with the spot, and back straight up. If that's not possible, try to line up with the obstacles on the drivers side close to you. It's easier to watch the drivers side mirror and make adjustments.
 

boingo

Forum Asst. Chief
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We have back up cameras on all the trucks, best thing since sliced bread! I suggest your agency buy some. :p
 

Righteous

Forum Probie
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Thanks for the help guys

Yep, mirrors are your friend. It just took me a lot longer than all my other class mates....maybe its that half asian coming out of me.

Anyways, all I need now is directional mastery< any hints in this department would be appreciated>

I suppose it doesnt go much beyond just looking at the map and more driving. Anything else I can do here?
 

RyanMidd

Forum Lieutenant
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I'm sure by now you realized that you're not the only one who has had a problem with reversing, and that in itself may help with confidence.

Additionally, I wanted to let you know that in British Columbia (one of Canada's provinces), there is a law that requires any ambulance backing up to utilize a spotter -- the size, shape, and capabilities of an ambulance make it less than pleasant to perfectly park.

Is this followed to the letter? No. When moving the rig a meter or so, most won't get out in -30 Celsius weather for 10 seconds. But anything further than that, and we get our mitts on and go spot. Because you don't want it on YOUR head when your best rig is in the shop for body damage.

All the other tips so far seem fine - practice, practice, and always be there to spot for others so that they'll do the same for you. It eliminates silly mistakes, and also gives a positive impression to the public, one that you're using safety and managing their tax dollars responsibly.
 

JonTullos

Forum Captain
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I found out I was already good at backing an ambulance because I drove cargo vans so much when I worked for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. You can rent one of those from then and usually for next to nothing (people rarely rent them, otherwise they just sit on their inventory). That could be an option for you.
 

Akulahawk

EMT-P/ED RN
Community Leader
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Personally, I found backing the ambulance to be fairly easy. Then again, at that point, I'd been driving an 11' cab-over camper for about 2 years... ;)

However, getting to the point where I could safely back into a stall took a while. Basically, what I do is pick a spot on the ground where I want to put my inside rear tire. That spot should result in an almost straight-in approach, once I hit that spot with the tire. That spot should also be at a point where as long as I'm backing towards it, I'll never hit anything. I want to start as far away from the final parking spot as I reasonably can, giving me a lot of space to work with. I just use my mirrors and guide the vehicle so that the tire hits that spot, then turn the wheel to the lock until I pick up a point on the wall directly behind me to use as a reference. Then I just use the mirrors, that spot, and some convenient reference point on the truck as a sight... As long as I keep all those points lined up, I'll be backing in a straight line. With a little practice, the straight line I'm backing up on becomes parallel to the parking stall lines.

I've been driving larger vehicles for about 10 of the past 12 years now... (I miss my F250) but I can honestly claim to have never scratched any of my vehicles, nearby pillars, posts, vehicles, people, or walls, when backing. I'm actually more precise backing into parking stalls than I am when parking nose-in. I still do the same things when backing my POV into stalls...

It took a LOT of practice to get it right. Don't worry... you'll get it. It just takes practice. If I could draw a diagram of how I do my backing, the explanation would be SOOO much easier... ;)
 

i5adam8

Forum Crew Member
43
0
6
1) Make sure your mirrors are adjusted. You need to be able to see your rear tires and the top of your box on both sides.

2) Unless your partner is doing patient care, you should always utilize a spotter anyway.

3) One of the most common mistakes is that you don't pull far enough forward to have a good view of the spot you are backing into. If you have the extra room, use it and pull as far forward as possible.

4) One you have your line, back straight in. I see people who try to correct, over correct, etc... Start backing up and make minor corrections. The steering wheel shouldn't be moving too much.

5) Practice as much as possible

Good luck!
This is really good advice.The part about pulling forward as far as you can is what helped me out in the begining.Once I started doing this,I got much better at backing in.
 
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