(1) All ambulances operating pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 140 of Title 68, Tennessee Code Annotated, must meet the following standards.
(a) All lights must function properly and in accordance with applicable federal and state motor vehicle laws and regulations pursuant to T.C.A. § 55-9-402.
(b) All emergency lights must function in the way in which they were designed to function.
(c) Emergency audible warning devices must function in the way in which they were designed to function.
(d) Body must be free of dents and rust.
(e) Tires must have at least four thirty-seconds inch (4/32") tread.
(f) Braking system must function properly and safely.
(g) Steering system must function properly. (h) All safety devices must function properly.
(i) All equipment in the patient compartment must be adequately secured.
(j) Oxygen tanks must bear a current static pressure date.
(k) Exhaust system must function to original standards.
(l) Patient compartment must be free of safety hazards.
(m) All ambulances (and invalid vehicles) shall have an operating odometer.
(n) The owner or operating agent of the ambulance shall subject the vehicle to a periodic mechanical safety inspection which shall be documented for the department.
1. Periodic mechanical safety inspection shall mean an inspection conducted at least annually, or every thirty-thousand (30,000) miles after a vehicle registers two hundred thousand (200,000) miles, whichever first occurs. The inspector must attest that the vehicle is mechanically safe, roadworthy, and maintained to federal and state laws applicable for such vehicles.
2. Mechanical safety inspections shall be conducted by a mechanic with factory training and certification from the original (motor vehicle) equipment manufacturer or the equivalent certification for Emergency Vehicle Technicians (EVT) or from the Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Mechanics certification.
3. Mechanical safety inspections shall be conducted in addition to the vehicle and equipment inspections by EMS Division personnel, following the procedures identified in the form or electronic records format adopted by the board.
4. Records of the periodic mechanical safety inspection shall be submitted upon the initial permit application to the Division of Emergency Medical Services, and shall be maintained for as long as the chassis is actively licensed or permitted. Such records and supporting documents consisting of repair orders and routine maintenance shall be available and submitted for inspection by an authorized representative of the department.
5. Upon observation of possible mechanical safety defects by an authorized representative of the department, or upon citation from a law enforcement agency, a vehicle shall be subject to unscheduled inspection to verify safe operation.
6. Upon failure of an inspection, an ambulance shall be immediately removed from service until such deficiencies are corrected that may in any way impair the safe operation of the ambulance or vehicle.
(2) Design and Construction - Any vehicle permitted pursuant to Chapter 140 of Title 68 shall be maintained according to the standards and specifications that follow: Standards for Emergency Ambulance vehicles.
(3) General Vehicle Requirements.
(a) The ambulance service shall determine the color of the exterior surface of each ambulance; however, the roof of the patient compartment shall be white.
(b) The ambulance service shall ensure that a minimum of one (1) horizontal solid reflective stripe at least six (6) inches in width shall be displayed on the sides and rear, horizontal to the beltline of the ambulance extending below the window line.
(c) The ambulance service may display a chevron striping pattern in the rear of the vehicle, with a pattern of alternating diagonal elements at least six (6) inches in width. Chevron patterns shall comply with the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices.
(d) Emblems and Markings.
1. The ambulance service shall ensure that the following markings are displayed on each ambulance:
(i) The service name on each side of the ambulance with a minimum of four (4) inch contrasting reflective letters;
(ii) The word "ambulance" displayed in contrasting reflective block letters not less than six (6) inches in height placed on each side of vehicle;
(iii) The word "ambulance" on the rear of each vehicle in contrasting reflective block letters not less than four (4) inches in height;
(iv) A reflective "Star of Life" of not less than sixteen (16) inches in height on each side of the vehicle;
(v) A reflective "Star of Life" of not less than four (4) inches in height on each rear door (if single rear door or sliding door, one on either side or alongside of the word Ambulance);
(vi) A "Star of Life" on the vehicle roof of not less than thirty-two (32) inches in height;
(vii) Numerals and letters used as vehicle call numbers, fleet numbers or chassis numbers placed on the sides and rear of each vehicle between four (4) and fourteen (14) inches in height and in reflective letters contrasting with the vehicle background. Numerals displayed on the vehicle rooftop shall be at least ten (10) inches in height, reflective and contrasting with the vehicle background.
2. An ambulance service shall identify its ambulances with lettering or a service trademark or emblem identifying the service. The service emblem or lettering shall be prominently displayed and shall not be printed over or superimposed over the "Ambulance" lettering or "Star of Life" emblems otherwise required by these rules.
3. An ambulance service shall not display any lettering, decals, or emblem which state(s) or suggest(s) that the ambulance service is affiliated with a business, entity, or government if there is no such affiliation.
4. An ambulance service shall not state or suggest that it has an accreditation that the service has not attained or maintained.
5. An ambulance service shall not have any markings that are commercial endorsements or advertisements for products or services other than ambulance services or services provided by the ambulance service owner.
6. An ambulance service shall not have any markings on vehicles that indicate any contractual arrangements with other businesses, entities, or individuals.
7. An ambulance service may display decals or placards on vehicles for recognized public safety programs as approved by the Division.
8. An ambulance service may display lettering or decals which serve a functional and useful purpose, such as identifying specialty care capability or special community programs as approved by the Division.
9. Within six (6) months of the effective date of this rule, each licensed service shall file a written description of its ambulance color and marking scheme with the Division of Emergency Medical Services. This description shall include a photograph or commercial drawing of the front, side, and rear of a modified vehicle.
(i) All ambulances within the service upon the effective date of this rule shall be modified in accordance with the plan submitted within one (1) year of the adoption of such color and markings plan;
(ii) Ambulances placed into permitted service after the effective date of this rule and after a design plan is filed with the Division office, shall conform to the service's adopted color and markings plan;
(iii) If the color and/or marking scheme is subsequently modified, a revised description and photographs shall be filed by the ambulance service with the Division office, and all ambulances within the service shall be modified within one (1) year after adoption of the revised color and markings scheme.
(iv) Upon the effective date of this rule, ambulance services shall ensure that white vehicles with an orange stripe may continue in service until replaced or withdrawn from service.
(e) An ambulance service shall ensure that each ambulance shall be equipped with flashing or oscillating warning lights on the front, sides, and rear of the vehicle, red in color, with a center-mounted white (clear) flashing light visible to the front. One or more amber flashing lights may be visible to the rear. Switching arrangements may provide either synchronized or alternating red warning lights on the front, sides, and rear of the vehicle. Warning lights shall meet minimum photometric standards as described in the Federal Star of Life Ambulance Specifications in effect at the time of end stage manufacture.
(f) Each ambulance service shall ensure that each ambulance has communications and warning devices that shall include but not be limited to a two-way radio with State designated emergency medical telecommunications frequencies and an audible warning and public address system, as follows:
1. Two-way Radio (Mobile).

Mobile radio equipment shall include VHF capabilities at a minimum, as established in Rule 1200-12-01-.08 (EMS Telecommunications), or means of alternative compliance as established in Rule 1200-12-01-.08. Radio control functions for the VHF and dispatch radio shall be accessible to the vehicle operator. The medical communication radio (or radio controls) shall be available in the patient compartment and comply with the respective regional frequency use plans and radio standards as published in the State EMS Telecommunications Plan.

2. Audible Warning and Public Address System.

A combination electronic siren with integral public address system and radio amplification shall be provided. Control functions shall provide public address, radio, manual, wail and yelp selections with remote siren control from the driver's position.

3. An ambulance service may install a mechanical siren or air horn in emergency vehicles.
(g) An ambulance service shall ensure that each vehicle's patient compartment has the following minimum dimensions:
1. Inside height of at least 60 inches, floor to ceiling.
2. Inside length from compartment divider to rear door of at least 116 inches.
(h) Each ambulance service placing ambulances in service or obtaining an initial permit in the state of Tennessee shall ensure that ambulances are manufactured and maintained according to the ambulance safety, construction and design standards that were adopted by the board as of the date of final manufacture. Current board-approved standards are posted on the Division's web page at https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/health/events/Ambulance%20Equipment%20Specifications%20Effective%20%20July%202019%20draft%209.20.18.pdf, or at any successor web address, and are hereby incorporated into this rule as if they were fully set out and stated herein. The effective date of any changes in the posted standards will be determined by the board.
(4) Specialty Care Vehicle Requirements

Vehicles used exclusively for the provision of specialty care response and/or transport shall conform with the board-approved ambulance safety, construction and design standards set out in paragraphs (1) through (3) of this rule, with the following exceptions:

(a) Additional markings, legends, or logos may be used to identify the provider and purpose for specialty care vehicles, except that no letter shall exceed six inches in height. Legends identifying the specialty care provided, such as "Neonatal Intensive and Critical Care Transport," may be substituted for the word "Ambulance" in exterior markings.
(b) Vehicle electrical systems shall be sufficient to sustain specialized equipment as verified by manufacturer's certificate. Units shall be equipped with a back-up power system sufficient to operate life support equipment in the event the main power system fails.
(c) Patient compartments, based on the vehicles' specialty care response, shall conform with the current Tennessee Perinatal Care System Guidelines for Transportation posted at https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/health/documents/GuidelinesTransportationPAC.pdf or any successor site.
(d) Vehicle crashworthiness shall be assured with roll-cage construction, evidenced by compliance with the Ambulance Manufacturer's Division Standards of the Truck Body and Equipment Association or comparable construction under written statement and performance bond by the manufacturer.
(e) Doors shall provide access to the rear and curb-side of the patient compartment. Where the vertical lift distance of the patient loading area exceeds 28 inches, a ramp or electrical/hydraulic lift shall be furnished to facilitate patient loading.
(f) Environmental systems on the unit shall meet heating/air conditioning standards as specified in Federal Specifications Ambulance.
(g) Vehicle electrical systems shall be provided to furnish 110 volt AC power sufficient to sustain 3,000 watts at 60 cycles. The unit shall be equipped with a back-up power system sufficient to operate patient care equipment in the event of failure of the main power system. The 110 volt system shall incorporate a ground fault interrupter device for protection against electrical hazards.
(h) Patient compartment shall be so designed to provide the following:
1. One transport incubator configured to allow observation from at least two sides of the patient which shall be capable of being secured in the vehicle.
2. An open bed warmer to allow various stabilization procedures.
3. Compartments for appropriate storage of materials such as culture media and medications.
4. Fixtures to ensure proper hand cleansing during a transport.
5. Illumination at the primary patient care area of at least 75 foot candles.
6. Safety features, to include:
(i) Cabinet corners and latches, sculpted, padded, or recessed to prevent undue injury during sudden deceleration.
(ii) Safety devices shall include:
(I) A grab rail or hand strap, secured according to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for safety restraints.
(II) Safety belts shall be provided at all attendant seats.
(III) Safety restraint devices for infants for use when the vehicle is in motion.
(i) Patient care equipment shall include the means to provide and monitor mechanical ventilation, and an oxygen system with sufficient capacity to deliver a minimum continuous flow of 8 liters per minute for at least four hours. The installed oxygen system shall be capable of delivering specific monitored blended oxygen concentrations.
(5) A licensed ambulance provider may operate a temporary ambulance upon a written acknowledgment from the Department's representative under the following conditions:
(a) A vehicle used to replace a permitted ambulance, when the permitted vehicle has been removed from service for repair or maintenance, when such temporary vehicle is not owned or normally operated by the service; or
(b) A vehicle acquired to replace a permitted ambulance, with conversion of title to the service or its agent, following the submission to the Division of vehicle information and the appropriate fee, shall be allowed to operate up to fifteen (15) days pending inspection by the department.
(c) Each provider shall assure compliance with all rules applicable to the operation of the vehicle as follows:
1. The replacement vehicle shall comply with all design, construction, equipment and safety standards as promulgated under paragraphs (1) (2) and (3).
2. Insurance coverage obtained by rider or policy revision shall be in evidence pursuant to rule 1200-12-01-.07.
3. The provider must immediately notify the Division of Emergency Medical Services in writing when the unit is placed in service, submitting information to include:
(i) the license and vehicle identification numbers of the substitute or replacement vehicle, and
(ii) the permit number of the unit for which the replacement is substituted.
4. Non-standard radio equipment may be authorized for temporary use in vehicles provided such authorization is requested in writing before placing the vehicle is placed in service. The request should include a reasonable, projected time period over which the non-standard equipment is expected to be used, and the basic capabilities of such equipment.
(d) Vehicles added to an existing fleet, requiring evidence of additional supplies and equipment to extend service, shall not be operated under temporary authorizations, but may be operated under a letter of approval filed by the Division's authorized representative following payment of fees to the Division's principal office, and evidence of satisfactory inspection by the authorized representative, pending the issuance of a permit.
(e) A letter of approval from a Division representative shall not be substituted for a vehicle permit for any period exceeding ninety (90) days.
(6) Upon inspection, any vehicle deemed unacceptable and failing an inspection shall be immediately removed from service until approved for return to service by the Division's authorized representative.


Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. 1200-12-01-.02
Original rule filed March 20, 1974; effective April 19, 1974. Amendment filed February 8, 1983; effective May 16, 1983. Amendment filed November 30, 1984; effective February 12, 1985. Amendment filed April 8, 1987; effective May 23, 1987. Amendment filed May 27, 1988; effective July 11, 1988. Amendment filed March 7, 1989; effective April 21, 1989. Amendment filed November 27, 1990; effective January 11, 1991. Amendment filed August 11, 1993; effective October 25, 1993. Amendment filed June 1, 2007; effective August 15, 2007. Amendment 1200-12-01-.02(1)(o) filed August 7, 2009; withdrawn November 2, 2009. Amendment filed August 7, 2009; effective November 5, 2009. Amendment filed May 26, 2010; effective August 24, 2010. Amendments filed September 23, 2019; effective 12/22/2019.

Authority: T.C.A. §§ 68-140-304, 68-140-306, 68-140-307, 68-140-504, 68-140-506, 68-140-507, and 68-140-526.

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