Plano Fire-Rescue's new ambulances will be fitted with an automatic loading system for the patient cot. This will provide a safer and more secure method of loading the patients.[/caption]
Although Plano Fire-Rescue’s new fleet of ambulances may be a downsize from its current vehicles, they are expected to provide a smoother, more comfortable ride for first responders and medical patients alike, according to department personnel.
The department expects to roll out 11 new vehicles in January. EMS Captain Jack Sides said the change will address the number one complaint the department gets from people being transported.
“The new units will be equipped with a liquid springs suspension system, which will be a great improvement over the more heavy duty suspensions used in medium duty trucks,” he said. “However, due to great attention to interior design, the patient compartment will be comparable to our current larger truck with added benefit of increased patient and personnel comfort.”
The new ambulances will also offer some state-of-the-art safety features for protecting occupants, Sides said. Besides standard restraints and airbags, the patient compartment will also be equipped with numerous airbag barriers that will protect the patient and attendant from contact with almost any hard surface in the event of a collision or rollover. The airbags will deploy anytime the vehicle is tilted more than 15 degrees, he said. A seatbelt monitoring system will also alert the driver when a person occupying a seat is unbelted.
The vehicles are significantly less expensive than the traditional medium-duty trucks as well, Sides said, the savings from which were enough to offset the cost of the loading system and other features. The new ambulances cost $250,000 each as opposed to a medium duty, which is in the neighborhood of $325,000, Sides said.
Plano Fire-Rescue was also able to replace the entire fleet by extending the use of some of its older units two years past the typical 8-year replacement window, he said.
“We are acquiring a safer, smoother more state-of-the-art vehicle at a lower price,” he said. “It is also a huge benefit to be able to change the whole fleet at one time thereby assuring continuity and consistency in lieu of having a mix of vehicles with different configurations and operational characteristics."