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PL Custom Sends Second Critical Care Transport Ambulance to Lutheran (IN) Health Network

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By Alan M. Petrillo

PL Custom Body and Equipment Co. Inc. has supplied a second critical care transport vehicle to Lutheran Health Network in Fort Wayne, Indiana, an identical unit to one PL Custom built and delivered to Lutheran in November 2014.

The critical care transport unit, delivered earlier this year, is on a 2015 Ford F-450 4×2 crew cab chassis that uses a Liquid Spring suspension system, has a custom 156-inch patient module, is powered by a Ford 6.7-liter diesel engine, and is set up as both a critical care and a bariatric unit, according to Chad Newsome, PL Custom’s national sales manager. “The four-door cab affords extra crew members the ability to sit in comfort when coming back from a run,” Newsome notes, “and the Liquid Spring suspension system gives the rig a very smooth ride.”

Pat Unger, Lutheran’s critical care transport manager, says that Lutheran Health Network has a large fleet of emergency vehicles. “We have two Airbus EC-135 helicopters, seven Type 1 critical care transport trucks, of which two are PL Custom units, and 15 Type 3 ambulances—three by PL Custom,” Unger says.

The Liquid Spring suspension system is a hydraulic, compressed-liquid system that acts like two hydraulic cylinders, says Dean Martin, owner of Crossroads Ambulance Sales and Service LLC, who sold the critical care transport unit. “The system is controlled by sensors and a computer that detect the movement of the truck,” Martin says. “When the steering wheel is turned, the system immediately starts to counteract the anticipated move, unlike an air ride where there is a delayed response.” Unger adds that the unit is “very responsive to abrupt movements, there is no suspension lag, and there is a very minimal body roll during turns.”

Lutheran Health runs a three-person crew on its critical care transport units, Unger points out, and often takes specialty teams with it on a run. “Seventy percent of our travel time is unloaded in the back,” he says, “so we wanted our crew members belted in forward-facing seats, which is a more comfortable ride than the seats in the patient box.”

Unger also specified that Lutheran Health wanted a compartment-mounted generator that could maintain electrical, refrigeration, heating, and air conditioning power when the vehicle’s main engine was shut off. “We want to maintain the ability to power the vehicle at all times,” he says, “so we went with the Stadco 6-kW diesel generator.”

Martin points out that the Stadco generator fit into a tight compartment very nicely. “Another reason we went with the Stadco generator is that besides the good fit in a small compartment, it gives us a clean sine wave that is needed so as not to interfere with all of the telemetry equipment that’s on the critical care transport unit.”

Other equipment on the PL Custom critical care transport unit includes the TranSafe Systems bariatric cot, winch and ramp system (ramps are stored in an outside rear compartment); along with EVS 1500 series five-point seating, an EVS integrated child seat, supplemental patient compartment warming, a Federal Signal backup camera with a 5.6-inch flat panel LCD monitor, Whelen LED warning lighting and halogen scene lighting, a Vanner 2600-watt inverter, Stryker stretcher hardware, balloon pump storage, a Norcold refrigerator, and oxygen and medical grade air systems.

ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based journalist and is a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment editorial advisory board. He served 22 years with the Verdoy (NY) Fire Department, including in the position of chief.