Companies offering non-emergency medical transportation provide a vital service to individuals who are unable to drive themselves to medical appointments due to illness, age or disability. Unfortunately, many of those companies employ drivers who are not qualified to do the job. In many states, the non-emergency medical transport field is loosely regulated, and business owners commonly cut corners to save money. When they employ drivers without the proper qualifications, however, they could end up costing themselves a lot more than the expense of hiring someone with more knowledge and experience or investing in proper training.
If you are the owner of a NEMT company, employing the right drivers and providing the right training is crucial. Why are qualified drivers so important? Let’s take a closer look.
What Constitutes a Qualified Non-Emergency Medical Transport Driver?
While having a driver’s license and a clean driving record is good enough for many driving jobs, it isn’t for NEMT jobs. Transporting people who are sick, disabled or elderly requires special skills and training. Drivers should be trained in things like HIPAA, CPR and first aid. They also need to know how to properly secure passengers — including those who are bound to wheelchairs. Drivers should also be trained to safely load and unload passengers and transfer them to and from wheelchairs and stretchers.
Taking someone to a doctor’s appointment, to the hospital for tests to a dialysis clinic or to a facility for any type of routine procedure may not start off as an emergency, but emergency situations may develop. Drivers need to know how to respond if things go wrong. If a passenger is sick, the driver needs to know how to properly clean up biohazardous materials, for example.
Passenger safety is the number one reason to employ drivers who are qualified to do the job. Without proper knowledge and training, drivers subject passengers to unreasonable risk. They could cause injuries by being involved in accidents, dropping passengers, failing to properly secure passengers in vehicles, improperly using chairlifts or failing to transfer passengers to or from wheelchairs or stretchers safely. Unqualified drivers could also engage in dangerous behavior like leaving passengers in unsafe conditions or situations.
Even in non-emergency situations, passengers may have IVs, oxygen tanks or other medical equipment that needs to be properly transported. Drivers need to know how to handle these important items and travel safely with them.
Compliance with Driving Laws
Having a valid driver’s license doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is a good driver who obeys the law. By hiring drivers with clean driving records and training them in things like defensive driving tactics, you can avoid speeding tickets, accidents and other costly infractions. You need drivers you can trust to abide by all applicable laws at all times while on the road.
In addition to keeping your passengers safe and ensuring that your company doesn’t face steep fines, responsible drivers take care of your vehicles. They know how to do pre-trip and post-trip inspections, and you can trust them to not behave recklessly while behind the wheel. You can also trust them to let you know if anything goes wrong during the trip.
If a qualified driver is involved in an accident, he or she will know what to do. From securing the scene and making sure the passenger is safe to contacting the police, taking photographs of the accident and filing the correct paperwork, your qualified driver will handle all aspects of the situation appropriately.
Exceptional Customer Service
You may not think of your drivers as customer service providers, but they are the face of your company. They are who your passengers see, and the way they behave shapes your customers’ perceptions and opinions of your business. Qualified drivers who are friendly, respectful and personable create a positive experience for passengers. They care about their jobs and want to do them well, so they strive to provide excellent customer service from the moment they pick a passenger up to the time they deliver them safely to their appointment or back home. They pride themselves on showing up on time and communicating with riders if there are any delays.
Employing drivers who possess minimal knowledge and skills could save you a few dollars when it comes to wages, but it will likely end up costing you in the long run. Working with qualified drivers ensures patient safety and satisfaction while minimizing your risk. These drivers abide by the law, and you can feel confident allowing them to operate your vehicles and safely get passengers from point a to point b. Non-emergency medical transport drivers are responsible for a lot more than, say, delivering a hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, and you need qualified employees who are up for the challenge.