(November 18, 2011) Frisco firefighter/paramedics have a new tool that allows them to treat and
transport as many as 20 patients at a time with a single vehicle. The Frisco Fire Department’s new Ambulance Bus can do the job of 10 of its current ambulances. \
“What caught my eye was the potential to use the vehicle as a much more efficient triage or first aid station,” said Chief Mack Borchardt. “This will be a great asset for major emergencies and natural disasters. But, we’ll also use the ambulance bus during significant special events, where we tend to treat more people at a time, particularly during extreme heat.”
The Ambulance Bus is equipped with 20 stretchers, including two powered rolling gurneys;
a Life Pack 15 cardiac monitor /defibrillator; five wireless vital sign monitors; various two-way and portable radios; and fixed and portable oxygen tanks with a capacity to treat as many as 30 patients.
“If we had this vehicle a month ago, we would have used it to treat (those) patients exposed to carbon monoxide,” said Chief Borchardt.
In October, Frisco firefighters transported 15 people to local hospitals where they were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning after a vent pipe from a water heater became disconnected at a Frisco hair salon. In that case, five ambulances responded. Once at the scene, firefighter/paramedics began treating patients with oxygen.
The Frisco and Sherman Fire Departments are the first departments in state to receive the Ambulance Buses, as part of the Texas Emergency Medical Task Force (EMTF) Project. According to the EMTF contract, the project was developed by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to “create a network of rapidly deployable, regionally based emergency medical assets across Texas.”
Frisco was selected by the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council to receive the Ambulance Bus. In September, the Frisco City Council signed an interlocal agreement, accepting the offer. The Ambulance Bus has a price tag of approximately $430,000 and is paid for by state funds. The Frisco Fire Department has to staff and maintain the Ambulance Bus.
“We’re very excited to have been selected to receive the equipment,” said Chief Borchardt. “Aside from maintenance, it required little investment on our part. Plus, we were given the opportunity by the manufacturer to give input on equipment accessibility and what would work best for our area.”
Chief Borchardt says the idea for Ambulance Buses developed from the need to evacuate or treat numerous patients at a time in hurricane prone areas, but its value has been proven time and time
again during other emergencies.
Chief Borchardt adds the Ambulance Bus will come in handy whether firefighter/paramedics are working a major concert, attended by tens of thousands, at Pizza Hut Park; tending to a major accident, involving multiple vehicles and resulting in numerous patients; or responding to the call for ‘mutual aid’ from areas hit by tornadoes, hurricanes or wildfires.
“In any case, we plan to send this resource (ambulance bus) out with six firefighter/paramedics,” said Chief Borchardt. “This vehicle will be critical in speeding up evacuations. For example, if we experience a power outage and we need to evacuate a nursing home quickly, this bus will be invaluable.”
Chief Borchardt says having daily accessibility to the ambulance bus will allow staff to regularly train with the vehicle, “…working the bugs out and keeping their skills fresh.” Frisco is fully reimbursed for all expenses during Mutual Aid and State deployments. Chief Borchardt adds, such deployments serve as excellent “on the job training” opportunities for our Firefighter/Paramedics
Frisco’s new medical ambulance bus will travel to Austin next week, where it will be showcased at the Texas EMS Conference, which is one of the largest Emergency Medical Services conferences in the nation. .