Ambulance Makers Offer Roomier, Larger Rigs

Wheeled Coach
Wheeled Coach debuted a new ambulance at FDIC, built for the Fire Department of New York (FDNY), the first rig made under a multiyear contract.
TerraStar 623 ambulance
Horton Emergency Vehicles introduced a new TerraStar 623 ambulance at FDIC outfitted with the Horton Occupant Protection System.

The trend among ambulance manufacturers exhibiting at the 2011 Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) in Indianapolis showed rigs that are larger, heavier, and roomier than previous models and provide optional safety features.

Wheeled Coach Industries Inc. introduced its first production vehicle as part of a multiyear contract with the City of New York to provide new ambulances for the Fire Department of New York (FDNY).

Paul Holzapfel, national sales manager, says the ambulances are based on the Dodge B4500 Quad-cab chassis platform and incorporate many unique structural and technical requirements of FDNY.

“It’s a custom four-door crew cab with rear air suspension for lowering the ambulance’s back end to receive a patient load, and it uses a small modular body typical of FDNY,” Holzapfel says. “The ambulance has many redundant systems; it uses all printed circuit boards in its electrical systems; and all wiring is color-, number-, and function-coded.”

Holzapfel says the FDNY rig also is fitted with locks on every door, and when a door is shut it is always locked.

“You cannot leave a door unlocked on this truck because you have to open every door with a key and have to relock it to take the key out,” he said.

Wheeled Coach also displayed a neo-natal ICU unit on a Mercedes M2 chassis built for Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health. The critical care patient rig has a liquid oxygen system, a compressed air generator, and a 7,000-watt Stadco diesel generator that’s capable of supplying all the ambulance’s electrical needs. It also has a fold-down DVD player for patient viewing in transport.

In addition, Wheeled Coach exhibited two Chevy G4500 ambulances outfitted with powder-coated aluminum cabinets, as well as an extended cab ambulance built on a 4×4 Mercedes M2 chassis that is raised to allow it to navigate off road or over other rough terrain. The 4×4 Mercedes was built for a customer in Ecuador.

Horton Emergency Vehicles displayed a number of vehicles at FDIC and debuted its new TerraStar 623 ambulance. The rig is powered by a 300-hp MaxxForce 7 diesel and Allison 1000 EVS transmission, has factory air suspension, has a 4,000-lb.-plus payload capacity, and rides on a 183-inch wheelbase.

Steve Cole, manager of Horton’s Rescue Division, says the unit is fitted with the Horton Occupant Protection System (HOPS).

“HOPS is now standard equipment on every Horton and gives full rollover and collision protection,” Cole states. “And, HOPS complements our three-point seat belt system that allows an attendant to remove the shoulder protection and work on a patient when necessary.”

Horton displayed several medium-duty ambulances built on International Terra-Star chassis, as well as a medium-duty rig constructed on a Ford F-450 chassis. In addition, Horton exhibited Type I vehicles that Cole calls “the workhorses of the ambulance world, especially when the call is for four-wheel drive,” along with a Type III ambulance that is available in five models and three body sizes.

Besides ambulances, Horton also builds rescue units and displayed its LDR (Light Duty Rescue). The walk-in design allows for various specialized missions, Cole notes, including command and communications, transporting emergency personnel to emergency scenes, and serving as a haz-mat or dive team wet suit donning and doffing area. The LDR features transverse compartments for storing larger equipment, accessible from both sides of the rig, as well as ports for winches, generators, air systems, and scene lighting.

Braun Industries Inc. exhibited its new Freedom ambulance, built on a Spartan MetroStar LTD chassis with a long two-door cab and a 191-inch box.

Chad Brown, executive sales manager, says the design, produced in cooperation with Spartan, came as a result of fire departments with EMS-based services requesting a larger box that can carry more firefighting equipment along with EMS equipment so they can perform multiple job functions out of the same vehicle.

“The Freedom has an all-welded aluminum construction, has more outside compartments, sits on a longer box, and carries a bigger payload,” Brown says. “Inside, there are two five-point seats instead of an EMS bench and there’s duplicity of the electrical and oxygen systems, as well as lifesaving EMS equipment.”

Braun also displayed a Chief XL ambulance, built on a GM G4500 chassis for the New Castle (IN) Emergency Medical Service. Brown said the Chief XL is a medium-duty unit with a headroom height of 72 inches and carries one of the highest payloads in the industry, along with maximum storage, inside and out.

Road Rescue displayed its Ultramedic ambulance that features an all-aluminum interior to protect against bloodborne pathogens and Whisper Quiet, extra insulation in the rig’s floor, exterior walls, and interior panels to block out outside noises and make communicating with a patient easier.

Ahren Taszreak, national sales director, says the Ultramedic carries a patient-centric ceiling with a central air system that includes a medical rail system directly over the patient, providing a work zone with lights and medical accessories along with ceiling vents to control airflow.

The Ultramedic also has a smart display digital multiplex with an LCD screen that performs system monitoring diagnostics; has visual and audible warnings; and can display backup, patient area, and perimeter monitoring.

Other ambulances exhibited by Road Rescue included its Duramedic, Promedic, and Specialty units.

McCoy Miller and Marque, ambulance makers owned by Thor Industries, exhibited a half-dozen rigs, including a Marque built on an International Terra-Star chassis for the Cleveland Township (IN) Fire Department. The rig features an aluminum interior and cabinetry, full inside and outside compartmentation, and LED lighting.

Other Marque units were a Recruit Type III paramedic unit and a Squad 2 Type II chassis rig, while McCoy Miller ambulances shown were its Medic 146SE Type I and others built on Ford E-350 and Chevy G3500 chassis.

Life Line Emergency Vehicles displayed one ambulance, built on a Ford F-450 Super Duty chassis. The unit had a two-inch-thick interlocking double-aluminum insulated floor for a quieter ride, three-inch-thick vault-style compartment and entry doors, and extruded lower body crash rails.

ALAN M. PETRILLO is a freelance writer based in Tucson, Arizona, who writes for national and regional magazines and newspapers. He served 22 years with the Verdoy (NY) Fire Department, including in the position of chief.

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