The Montgomery County Commissioners Court approved the purchase of a multipatient transport vehicle–an ambus, or medical ambulance bus—pending federal American Rescue Plan Act approval, at its Aug. 23 meeting.

The vehicle, equipped with advanced medical monitoring and communications equipment, would cost $1,255,952, according to information at the meeting. The vehicle would only be purchased if reimbursement through ARPA is approved, according to officials.

Jason Millsaps, executive director of the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for the county, said the vehicle would function in public health components, large-scale events and mass-casualty circumstances.

“It could be used for infusions, vaccine drives; there’s a number of things we could use this for,” Millsaps said. “It’s a very versatile vehicle to add to the fleet of emergency medical equipment in the county.”

Millsaps said there are four other such vehicles in the region, including in Atascocita.

Millsaps said a few weeks ago the county office of emergency management had ordered the ambus for Atascocita to respond to a fire at a convalescent home in Willis, but it took too long to come.

“Sitting there waiting for an apparatus to come from another jurisdiction really irked me, and I started looking at the way we can get one of these similar county funding on this,” he said.

James Campbell, chief of emergency medical services for the county, said the purchase of the vehicle would prevent the need to take multiple other vehicles out of service for a large event. In the case that multiple vehicles are responding to an event, service in the rest of the county is significantly affected.

“Anytime that there's an event ... what we would define as a multicasualty casualty incident—an MCI—if we send 10 ambulances, for example, we staff 30 every day so that's a third of our staff that's on that one incident,” Campbell said. “So then we call in neighboring agencies to bring ambulances to run 911 calls while we focus our efforts on the MCI.”

If the ARPA approval goes through, the county would have the ambus by April 1.