Ambitrans Keeps People Moving—and Employees Working

Ambitrans vehicles are a familiar sight on the streets of Southwest Florida. Their fleet of 28 vehicles is available around the clock, 365 days a year to provide a vital lifeline for folks who might otherwise miss out on medical attention and care.

It’s a world of need
Ambitrans serves those physically unable—through illness, disability or the frailness of age—to cope with the challenges of getting to the doctor, clinic, nursing home or hospital. There is no average patient because the company serves children, seniors and folks with illnesses of all kinds. For some clients, Ambitrans personnel may be the first visitors they have had for days, and they are a welcome sight. Ambitrans drivers cope with physically demanding work that includes lifting, carrying and supporting these folks.

Safety is key
This medical transportation company has 130 employees—including 102 field staff—all trained to lift and carry safely.

Nate Cooley, Ambitrans operations manager, works hard to keep employees safe and the number of injuries low. He started with specific lift training to protect patients, which quickly grew into best practices that make the company well-known for its care. Their state-of-the-art equipment includes hydraulic lifts and stretchers, along with lightweight wheelchairs. When they need extra hands, managers are known to head out to help.

Despite these resources injuries still happen. Nate explains, “Lifting heavy loads is what we do, and the folks we’re lifting can’t help. So, when strained backs and muscles edged our loss ratio up, we asked Summit for ideas.”

A successful partnership

Morgan Long, Summit loss control consultant for Ambitrans, responded quickly. “Nate and his folks work hard to prevent injuries, but sometimes a different set of eyes can help. Our analysis showed that 65 percent of injuries were happening during the employees’ first and second years with Ambitrans, and 55 percent of disabilities were occurring in that period, too. We suggested that the company increase their dedicated supervision of new employees for a couple of years because task training is needed after basic new-hire training. Ambitrans ran with it. They trained supervisors to be more diligent, and they met with an ergonomics specialist to identify specific movements that should be eliminated and others that needed to be encouraged. Injuries are already down. And just as important, Nate has put a tremendous Back2work program in place.”

Back2Work at Ambitrans

Ambitrans has just finished their Summit Back2Work certification, a process that Brian Wyles (Bouchard Insurance), the insurance agent for Ambitrans, credits as a huge reason for the company’s continued success at limiting the cost of injuries. He explains that the company makes Back2Work part of their company policy—and the fact that Nate stays in contact with both the injured employee and the treating doctor makes a big difference. As the operations manager, Nate is very clear about Back2Work at Ambitrans, “With us, if the doctor says you shouldn’t lift, you don’t. I keep a running list of company needs that can be completed by an employee with restrictions. They can make phone calls to customers, clean out file cabinets and drawers—whatever it takes to work within their restrictions.”

And it’s working!

Ambitrans claims are down, and those employees who do stay out are truly injured. For Nate, the answer to lower claims is simple, “We don’t let employees wonder what the next step is, ever. I call the adjustor; I call the doctor; and I check whatever therapy is needed and even fax the prescriptions to Summit. I can facilitate the whole process by staying proactive, and our employees appreciate it.”

When asked for the company’s secret to keeping employees working, Nate replies, “It’s staying in touch with them. Otherwise, they feel like you left them and don’t care. Most folks have a difficult time understanding their health insurance, much less their workers’ comp. We help them navigate the system, and that takes the burden off an employee who’s already worried about being injured. Our insurance agent, Brian Wyles, helps, too. Plus, I stay in touch with Summit and call when I have a question. Summit gets me answers fast. It takes everyone working together to keep employees healthy and on the job.”