CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – Shorter, smaller, slimmer. A mini-ambulance is bringing new dimensions to emergency care in out-of-the-way or heavily crowded locales.
Lt. Jason Coup of Chesapeake Fire Department opens the back door of the M-RAT (Mobile Rapid Access Transit). He can easily reach from side to side across the back of the vehicle. At just five feet wide, it’s two feet narrower than a typical ambulance.
“We carry EMS equipment just like our [larger] ambulances do and we carry all our bags for trauma, breathing and airway equipment. Everything we would normally do in the back of the ambulance, we can put in here and do the exact same thing,” Coup said.
The $65,000 unit has already proven its worth at this year’s Jubilee.
“Most of the days were in the high 90s and heat indexes were in the 100s,” Coup said.
That means people with heat exhaustion, and some even more serious than others. Coup says the M-RAT reached 35 patients that weekend.
“Several of those were critical cases. We actually had one that was having a heart attack. [Medics] were able to go ahead and do a cardiac check and vitals check, and they were able to read that they were having a heart attack.”
Before M-RAT, the first transport for someone at a big crowd event would have been a golf cart that is driven to a medical tent for an evaluation. With this vehicle, evaluation begins immediately, saving crucial minutes.
“With the AC capabilities in the back and already being cool, we were able to retrieve [patients] a lot faster and get them into a cooler environment which made for a better outcome,” Coup said.
So if you’re having fun Sunday at City Park and you see an ambulance that seems a little smaller than normal, be ready to part the seas so vital medical help can get where it’s needed.
When it was demonstrated last year at Northwest River Park, officials envisioned rattlesnake bites and hiking trail injuries as two key uses for M-RAT. But so far, it’s the larger crowd scenarios where it has answered the call.
Fire departments in Virginia Beach, Newport News and Yorktown also have the mini-ambulance. Another critical application for the M-RAT is in rural areas where someone needs immediate attention when they are far from a paved road.