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Visitors to our research campus in the mid 1980's might have panicked at the sight of not one, but ten New York City ambulances parked alongside the building.

No need to call 911

These ambulances were part of the prototype and performance testing being conducted by ECRI Institute engineers. All told, the 5-year testing project examined 1,000 vehicles by three different manufacturers.

Ten ambulances at a time were delivered for our rounds of performance testing. And, we put them through some unusual scenarios.

One of the most memorable processes involved the testing of mechanical load strength. A 15,000 pound metal plate, suspended in the air by a rented industrial crane, was slowly lowered onto the ambulance roof, simulating the potential forces on the roof if the ambulance happened to turn over onto itself.  

To test the strength of door and stretcher latches, ECRI Institute engineers rigged up steel cable assemblies and pulled the item under test until it failed. 


Will an ambulance leak if submerged in water? No, we didn’t drive the test vehicles into our pond out front. Instead, our chief model maker set up a high-pressure, multiple-water spray assembly behind the building—sort of a car wash on steroids. 

How do the ambulances perform in hot and cold climates? Since driving them to the Arctic and Equator were out of the question, ECRI Institute transported them to an environmental chamber owned by the Philadelphia train yard to assure they would start without delay and the engines would perform properly in extreme temperatures. 

The sound-level testing of sirens must have attracted some attention from our Butler Pike neighbors.

Like Indy racers

And, imagine our test engineers, like Indy 500 racers, behind the wheel of these NYC ambulances in the LuLu parking lot, flooring the gas pedals and screeching to a tire-skid halt for the acceleration and braking test. 

Oh, the old days! All in the pursuit of patient safety.