Fire departments equip and use utility terrain vehicles (UTVs) and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) for applications such as quick-response rescue units, emergency response in parklands and backcountry, and mini wildland firefighting units.
Kimball Johnson, president of Kimtek Corporation, says Kimtek makes five MEDLITE® model skid units for emergency medical services (EMS) and rescue applications that can be used on UTVs. “Our MTB-101 is designed to carry one patient on a long board or Stokes basket and one EMS attendant,” Johnson says, “while our MTS-102 is configured like the 101 but can also carry assorted emergency gear and has a two-position guide-lock seat to allow the attendant to move to assist with bagging or to a center position for CPR compressions.”
1 Kimtek Corp. built this MEDLITE Transport unit that Delaware County (OH) EMS mounted in the bed of its UTV. (Photos 1-2 courtesy of Kimtek Corp.)
2 Wells (ME) Fire Department personnel use a UTV carrying a MEDLITE MTD-103 unit to evacuate a patient from the beach.
The MEDLITE Transport Deluxe MTD-103 can carry one patient, an EMS attendant, and emergency gear in nine cubic feet of slide-out tray storage; has a retractable utility pole; and has an oxygen bottle holder, Johnson points out. “The MSTR-104 is designed to carry one patient on a full-size standard ambulance stretcher and one EMS attendant,” he says. “The stretcher rides inside the MEDLITE Transport and attaches in much the same way as typical stretchers are attached inside an ambulance. Our MCI-106 can carry two long boards or Stokes baskets for multiple casualty incidents and has 18 cubic feet of storage for medical bags, trauma, oxygen, and other supplies.”
Johnson notes that Kimtek also makes nine models of fire/rescue units for UTVs, with the FST-201, 202, 203, 204, 207, and 208 models having a multipurpose area with half devoted to fire suppression equipment and the other half for rescue with an area to carry a backboard or Stokes basket as well as added rescue and medical equipment.
Jason Black, president of MTECH Inc., says MTECH makes two EMS models and three fire/rescue models of QTAC skids for UTVs. “The EMS-R platform has an attendant seat, a platform for a backboard or Stokes, storage, an oxygen holder, an IV holder, and equipment storage,” Black points out, “and the EMS-F is a basic model with an attendant seat and platform for a backboard or Stokes.”
3 Butte County (CA) Sierra Search and Rescue medics use a QTAC EMS-F EMS platform on a Polaris Ranger UTV to rescue an injured hiker. (Photo 3 courtesy of MTECH Inc.)
MTECH makes three fire/rescue QTAC skids: the 85EMS, which has a fixed rescue litter platform and two pump options; the 85EMS-C, which features a convertible rescue litter platform that allows for the tailgate to be closed on most UTVs when not in use; and the 85EMS-L, which has a fixed rescue litter platform, a storage area, and a flooded suction, Black notes.
Benjamin Beck, RTV product marketing specialist for Kubota Tractor Corp., says Kubota’s most popular model UTV for rescue and EMS functions is its RTV-X1140, a two-row diesel utility vehicle that comes standard with a convertible bed to transform it from a two-row model with a short bed to a one-row model with a long bed, allowing it to be adapted to fit the needs of the specific event. “Another popular model is our RTV-X1100C, which features a factory cab with HVAC to help keep drivers and passengers comfortable, even in the harshest environments,” Beck says. “The vehicle is designed with an integrated wiring harness that enables users to easily add lights and beacons to meet rescue and EMS needs for increased visibility.”
Beck notes Kubota’s X-Series has a Kubota-built three-cylinder liquid-cooled diesel engine with VHT-X (variable hydraulic) transmission that provides smooth operation at low speeds, dynamic braking, and decreased wear on critical components. The X-Series also comes standard with an all-steel bed for increased durability, multi wet disc brakes for increased braking performance, and CV joint protection and skid plates to protect the vehicle from debris.
4 The Chico (CA) Fire Department uses a QTAC 85EMS-C fire/rescue skid that has a pump, hose reel, and convertible rescue litter platform on its Polaris Ranger UTV. (Photo 4 courtesy of Chico Fire Department.)
5 The RTV-X1140 UTV made by Kubota Tractor Corp. is the company’s most popular model fire departments choose for rescue and EMS functions. (Photo 5 courtesy of Kubota Tractor Corp.)
Tony Stanley, director of business development for government and public safety at Polaris, says Polaris is focusing on its Ranger UTV for use with rescue and EMS skids and that the top seller to fire and EMS departments is the Ranger NorthStar. The UTV has a 999-cubic-centimeter (cc) twin-cylinder four-stroke liquid-cooled gasoline engine with electronic fuel injection, weighs 1,937 pounds, has an 81-inch wheelbase and a 14-inch ground clearance, has a payload capacity of 1,575 pounds, and can carry three people.
Stanley notes that the Polaris Ranger XP 1000 also is used by emergency services personnel who want a rugged UTV that can be used in the backcountry but also in turf-friendly urban settings. “We make the Ranger in three- and six-seat versions, with an option for a full cab with heating and air conditioning and windshield wipers,” he points out. “The Ranger is all-wheel drive, has a high clearance, and has a 1,000-pound-capacity cargo box. Polaris has worked with RKO Enterprises, which makes fire and rescue skids, to design its skids specifically for the Ranger box.”
Rick Balentine, chief of Aspen (CO) Fire Protection District, says Aspen is running a Polaris HVAC Ranger UTV that is set up primarily for wildfire and rescue in summer. “It’s an 82-horsepower unit with a 1,000-pound box capacity on an 81-inch wheelbase with a three-person capacity,” Balentine says. “We have a lot of steep terrain here, and the Ranger helps us get to the top of the mountains quickly. Our unit has a pump, a 70-gallon water tank, five gallons of foam, and a vehicle-mounted night vision camera and thermal sight to help us with nighttime search and rescue. In the winter, we remove the pump and tank and set up a litter in the back so we can assist the sheriff’s department with rescues.”
ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based journalist, the author of three novels and five nonfiction books, and 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.