New regional ‘mini’ ambulance will be able to reach patients in typically inaccessible areas


CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – The Metropolitan Medical Response System, part of Tidewater EMS, debuted a new, more agile type of ambulance Wednesday for specific emergencies.

“It will actually go where an ambulance cannot fit,” said program coordinator Stephanie Hackett. “Back in trails, back in woods, in rural areas where you can’t typically get a vehicle in there.”

The Medical Rapid Access Transport unit (MRAT) is able to get into rugged terrain, but also can be instrumental at large regional gatherings, such as the Chesapeake Jubilee, Something in the Water, Harborfest and other ongoing festivals.

The all-terrain vehicle is shorter and narrower than a typical ambulance. It can carry a patient and accommodate two medics plus the driver. The MRAT can provide first aid as well as an immediate transition to more serious medical care.

“MRAT could have been used at the shootings in Virginia Beach,” Hackett said. “It can be used for Harbor Fest, Something in the Water, Chesapeake Jubilee. A lot of crowded areas.”

The $65,000 mini ambulances were paid for by a grant. Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Hampton and York County are getting the first four. Eventually, there will be 10 deployed throughout Hampton Roads.

First responders see the new way of responding to emergencies as a way of reassuring people who might have second thoughts about going elbow-to-elbow at the next crowded festival, or face-to-face with creatures of the woods.

“I’m hoping that they see this and say, OK, I can go off into these trails and I’m not gonna get dragged out of the trail or carried out of the trail,” said Lt. Jason Coup of the Chesapeake Fire Department.

Chesapeake will have its MRAT out this weekend for the Independence Day fireworks show Saturday night.

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