Ambulance Visibility
Emergency vehicle conspicuity research on livery, warning lights and
high visibility markings - photos, technical information & newsletters by John Killeen  

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About                                Ambulance Visibility Logo 2 and John Killeen John Killeen-ACT Ambulance-Intensive Care

As I have discussed emergency vehicle research with people from different organisations from around Australia and overseas I came to realise that no common pipeline currently exists for the promotion and sharing of visibility information and research.  This new Ambulance Visibility website and the quarterly E-Bulletin provide an opportunity to fill that communication void and make the rapidly increasing visibility & conspicuity knowledge base more accessible 

The aims of the website and the E-Bulletin are:

To generate an informal clearing house, internet gateway and low-key forum for visual warning research              (readers of the website & EBulletin should make their own value judgements about the information resources and linked documents)


To circulate information on new research & data resources as they become available.


Provide details of current, developing or new projects – thus helping researchers to find existing data, share their data or seek help from others with the production of their research.  This may assist in opening new lines of communication from individuals or organisations that may be previously unknown to the initial group.


Provide a common point of contact and a path of introduction for researchers and emergency service personnel while respecting & maintaining individual privacy.


Please send any interesting new research links, project details, photographs, questions, comments or letters for publication on this website to     

A short history

The early years in Queensland  –  a reference map of Australia is provided below the text
In 1985 I moved from Canberra (Australia’s national capital) to Yeppoon, a small coastal town near Rockhampton in Central Queensland. I had come to the tropics to buy a beachfront caravan park.  The local Queensland Ambulance Transport Board (now Queensland Ambulance Service) in Yeppoon were keen to have a volunteer Honorary Ambulance Officer to assist at the station and soon after my arrival they convinced me to sign-up. As I was self-employed and working on the coast, I could attend ambulance cases at short notice .           Kinka Beach-Yeppoon-Island View Caravan Killeen
An ambulance on the beach
Over the next eight years I worked alongside the Yeppoon Ambulance Officers (and often alone) on medical cases.  The caravan park was located mid-way between Yeppoon and the smaller town of Emu Park to the south, so an ambulance was usually garaged at home.  It was during these years in Central Queensland, driving along narrow country roads, that I began to think about how ambulances could be made more visible, especially at night. 
A bright new rainjacket
In 1987 I flew to London for a holiday and during my visit bought a fluorescent Saturn Yellow rainjacket fitted with white encapsulated Reflexite tape. After returning to Yeppoon this jacket caused a “sensation” among everyone at accident scenes with many passing comments about the yellow-green colour and the astonishing brightness of the jacket in daylight & darkness. The seeds for future research had been sown! 
ACT Ambulance, new research and the livery trials 
Late in 1992 I sold the caravan park and lived overseas until returning to Canberra in 1994.  I joined the ACT Ambulance Service in 1997 working as an on-road Intensive Care Paramedic and also as a member of the Operations Support Team. During 1998-99 I set about researching a comprehensive report with the long title; The theoretical and practical aspects of visual warning methods in use on emergency John Killeen - ACT Ambulance intensive Care Paramedic - ambulance visibility - patient carevehicles. 
The purpose of this large report was to consolidate all the technical research available 
at that time. The information was compiled into a document that was easy to understand 
and concluded with simple recommendations
that could be adapted to everyday emergency
vehicle practise. 
Since 1999 I have been highly active in the
visibility field, continuing to present the findings
of the report at national conferences and
seminars along with new research and
operational examples of emerging vehicle designs.               ACT Ambulance paramedics on-road in 2004 (John Killeen on right) 
Visibility issues move ahead!
In 2004 I began working on the transition of ACT Ambulance vehicles to a high-visibility livery and the trial of a new advanced LED warning light design that included amber lamps.  The year of 2005 in Australia was a watershed year for ambulance visibility issues. Following presentations at conferences and seminars this wave of interest continues to flow both nationally within Australia and overseas.  At the same time, the Tasmanian Ambulance Service was examining the ACT vehicle designs and in 2006 Tasmania introduced a similar high-visibility livery onto their ambulance fleet. 
  Webinar-Conference-Global EMS Killeen-2
In October 2006 I was presented with an ACT WorkCover Award for
my work on the ambulance fleet.  The presentation of the  award generated enormous interest here in Australia and other countries following Australian newspaper articles and reprints in trade journals. After the ACT award
was announced I was nominated as a finalist in the national Safe Work Australia Awards held in early 2007
More States come on-board
Over the last two years a number of Australian state ambulance services have been assessing the effectiveness of the ACT Hi-Vis livery and the improved warning light design. Two separate independent reviews of my report along with other current research were carried out in 2007. Several months after the reviews, Queensland Ambulance Service and the South Australian Ambulance Service changed their vehicle fleets to new improved visibility liveries. 
Latest developments in new livery designs
After consultations earlier in 2007, the ACT Rural Fire Service redesigned their fire and command vehicle livery. The ACT Fire Brigade have adopted a similar livery for their dual cab utility vehicles earlier in 2008. At the same time, Air Services Australia were examining different designs and in 2008 they adopted a new yellow-green body paint with fluorescent markings and are trialling synchronised warning beacons on their new airport fire appliances. These new Rosenbauer aviation fire appliances will be seen at Australian airports from April 2008. Also during this year, Summit County in Colorado USA have changed their livery to a fluorescent yellow colour to enhance the visibility of their vehicles, especially against the background of snow in winter. In 2010 Ambulance Visibility advised Muskoka EMS in Canada on a new fluorescent livery – See the Old vs New webpage



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