Alachua County Fire Rescue now has at its disposal, a brand new, $500,000 medical ambulance bus, one of only two in the state.
A typical ambulance can take just one or two patients at a time said Larry Stewart, Alachua County Fire Rescue assistant chief. The new bus will be able to hold up to 20 stretcher-bound patients, hold 10 wheelchairs and seat 24 people in addition to crew members.
With a generator and medical gear onboard, the unit can remain self-supporting, allowing lights and oxygen to remain in use for up to 72 hours.
The bus also has an onboard oxygen system that will allow crew members to stabilize and monitor patient’s vital signs until transport units arrive to take them to a hospital, said Charles Tannachion, Alachua County Fire Rescue captain.
This medical ambulance bus is one of two buses of its kind in Florida, both obtained by Jacksonville through a federal grant.
A little more than a year ago, Jacksonville approached Alachua County Fire Rescue to see if they would host one of the two units.
“They didn’t feel that it would be prudent to put both the resources in one place.” Stewart said.
Alachua County Fire Rescue decided to cooperate with Jacksonville Fire Rescue, and they applied and were approved for the grant. They are currently training the crew to use the bus and plan to implement it in the next two weeks.
The bus will be an ideal unit to respond to large accidents like the I-75 pileup near Payne’s Prairie that occurred Jan. 29, 2012.
Officials also plan to use it at other kinds of scenes like as a treatment center for firefighters extinguishing major blazes or as a vehicle to help evacuate nursing homes.